Politicians call for attorney general to investigate police shooting of California teenager

Homicide investigators say the victim was armed with an illegal gun.

June 21, 2020, 10:11 PM

The fatal shooting of an 18-year-old man by a Southern California sheriff's deputy who was not wearing a body camera has prompted politicians and the teenager's family to request state Attorney General Xavier Becerra launch an independent investigation "so we know we are getting the truth."

Andres Guardado was shot and killed after two Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies said they saw him wielding a gun in front of a business and led them on a foot chase. But Guardado's family claimed that at the time he was shot, he was working as a security guard for an auto body shop in an unincorporated section of Gardena, California, near where he was shot to death on Thursday afternoon.

Congresswomen Nanette Diaz Barragan and Maxine Waters, both Southern California Democrats, issued a joint statement asking Becerra to conduct a full investigation into the shooting.

"Andres Guardado is the latest young man of color killed by police gunfire," Barragan and Waters said in their statement. "There must be full transparency so the public can trust the investigation and we know we are getting the truth."

PHOTO: This undated photo provided by Noe Abarca shows his nephew Andres Guardado, 18.
This undated photo provided by Noe Abarca shows his nephew Andres Guardado, 18.
Courtesy of Noe Abarca via AP

Becerra has yet to say if he will conduct an investigation into Guardado's death. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said it would be "premature" for Becerra to launch an investigation into a shooting his detectives are still in the early stages of probing.

While Barragan, Waters and Guardado's family claimed he was shot in the back, homicide investigators said the teenager was shot in the upper torso and that he was armed with a .40-caliber handgun that had no serial number and was fitted with a prohibited extended magazine with a 15-round capacity.

But Gardado's sister, Jennifer Guardado, 22, said the gun found at the scene of the shooting did not belong to her brother. She also described the shooting as a "cowardly move" by deputies.

"He couldn't even see the person that was going to shoot him," Jennifer Guardado said at a vigil held for her brother near the scene of the killing.

PHOTO: Candles and flowers are set next to an image of Andres Guardado, 18, who was fatally shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy, at a memorial site in Gardena, Calif.
Candles and flowers are set next to an image of Andres Guardado, 18, who was fatally shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy, at a memorial site in Gardena, Calif.
Damian Dovarganes/AP

Andrew Haney, a co-worker of Andres Guardado, claimed the teenager was working as a security guard for the auto body shop at the time he was killed.

"We had someone keeping an eye on the front because we've been having people tagging up recently and stuff like that, and the police apparently came up and pulled a gun on him, and he got scared and ran," Haney told ABC station KABC-TV in Los Angeles.

Capt. Kent Wegener, head of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Homicide Bureau, said the shooting unfolded at 5:52 p.m. on Thursday when two deputies spotted Guardado standing outside a business.

"Guardado reportedly looked toward the deputies, produced a handgun and ran south down the driveway of the business at the location," Wegener said at a news conference on Saturday night.

He said the deputies chased Guardado on foot and one of them fired six shots at the teenager, hitting him in the torso. Guardado was pronounced dead at the scene, he said.

The names of the deputies involved in the incident have not been released.

Villanueva said neither deputy involved in the incident were wearing body cameras because the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have not provided funds for him to equip all officers in his department with the equipment.

Wegener said investigators have looked into reports that Guardado was working as a security guard or acting as a security guard.

He noted that Guardado was not wearing a security guard uniform, or was in possession of a security guard badge. He added that security guards in California are required to be at least 21 years old before they can be licensed and said detectives have yet to find evidence confirming the teenager was acting as a security guard.

Guardado was a student at L.A. Trade-Technical College, the Los Angeles Community College District said in a statement.

"LACCD strongly supports the call by Mr. Guardado's family for a full and independent investigation into the circumstances of the killing," college district officials said. "His death comes at a time of national outcry for social justice and significant police reform regarding the use of deadly force by law enforcement and for greater emphasis on de-escalation techniques and community policing. We must never be desensitized to, or normalized by, the alarming number of deaths by law enforcement of black and brown men and women in this country -- it cannot be tolerated and the time for police reform is now."

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