The Los Angeles County coroner’s office released the autopsy report for Andres Guardado, the 18-year-old man shot and killed in Gardena by an L.A. County sheriff’s deputy on June 18, despite a security hold placed on the document by the L.A. Sherrif’s Department. The results are in line with those from an independent autopsy requested by Guardado’s family and released yesterday: Guardado was shot five times in the back.
“I have given careful consideration to the major variables in this case — supporting the administration of justice, as well as the public’s right to know,” Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner Dr. Jonathan Lucas said in a statement. “I do not believe that these are mutually exclusive ideals. Both are important, particularly amid the ongoing national discussion about race, policing and civil rights. I believe that government can do its part by being more timely and more transparent in sharing information that the public demands and has a right to see.”
According to the autopsy report, dated June 22, Guardado suffered five gunshot wounds to the back, all of which were fatal, as well as two additional graze wounds, one on each forearm. Four of the gunshot wounds to the torso were angled slightly upward and one was slightly downward. It is not known which wounds Guardado sustained first. A toxicology report showed no drugs or alcohol.
Guardado was approached by deputies near an autobody shop where he worked as an informal security guard. The deputies say they spotted a gun and that Guardado ran when he saw them. They chased after him, and one of them opened fire, shooting Guardado six times. A gun was recovered from the scene.
Protesters and Guardado’s family, who say the teen likely ran because he was scared, have pressed for answers.
Yesterday, the LASD held a briefing in response to the independent autopsy released by the family’s attorneys. LASD Cmdr. Christopher Marks said they would continue to hold the autopsy until they had completed all interviews. Notably, they had yet to interview the deputy who shot Guardado and claimed they could not compel an interview due to the deputy’s Fifth Amendment rights. Marks said he would be interviewed within a week.
That deputy has been identified as Miguel Vega. Vega’s attorney, Adam Marangell, has issued a statement on behalf of his client, the Los Angeles Times reported. He said Vega ordered Guardado to lie on the ground, facedown, and drop his weapon. Guardado complied, but the gun remained close to his right hand. Marangell says that when Vega went to cuff Guardado, he reached for the gun and Vega shot him in self-defense.
Marks noted that investigators did not recover any footage of the incident from any of the cameras seized from the area. And though a plan is in place to equip deputies with body cameras in the future, these deputies were not wearing any.