LA County Sheriff gives updates of ongoing Andres Guardado investigation

Alex+Villanueva+updates+the+public+on+a+new+body-camera+deal+with+Axon%2C+a+law+enforcement+equipment+agency%2C+which+he+announced+on+Aug.+12.+Photo+credit%3A+Daniel+Suarez+Jr.

Alex Villanueva updates the public on a new body-camera deal with Axon, a law enforcement equipment agency, which he announced on Aug. 12. Photo credit: Daniel Suarez Jr.

Daniel Suarez Jr., News Editor

On August 12, the Los Angeles County Sheriff department held a public press conference where Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Detective Division Commander Chris Marks provided the latest developments in the Andres Guardado shooting, an incident in which He was shot five times in the back that the Chief Medical Examiner ruled a homicide.

In the announcement, Marks revealed that no video of the Deputy involved shooting has could be recovered. There were cameras in that location, however, they were “seized as evidence and a forensic review was conducted.” Since the Sheriff Dept did not have a body-camera mandate at the time of the shooting, no video evidence was discovered in the official review.

“I can assure you we are moving forward with this investigation and a very thorough one, one that focus on accuracy and not speed,” said Sheriff Alex Villanueva, whom after opening remarks, handed the podium to Chris Marks.

The Detective Division Commander went over many of the previously known facts of the case. He showed a security video from a building across the street, facing the body shop that Guardado worked at. In it, we see Guardado interacting with two people inside of a white Lexus.

The brief video fast forwards a few frames every couple seconds, and we see Guardado turn and run down an alleyway pursued by two Compton Sheriff deputies. The video doesn’t capture the shooting, but one of the deputies, Miguel Vega, opened fire, killing Guardado.

Initially, Villanueva put Guardado’s autopsy on a security hold, despite calls from the community and the suspect’s family demanding its release. It was not until July 10, in an unprecedented move the Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner Dr. Jonathan Lucas released it against the departments security hold citing “the support of the administration of justice, as well as the public’s right to know.”

The autopsy revealed that the 18-year old Latino man was shot in the back five times, and no drugs or alcohol was detected in his system. According to the update by Detective Marks, Guarado was armed with a makeshift handgun, using 3D printed materials and mismatched weapon parts. While Deputy Vega claims the shooting was justified, there is no official information regarding what Guardado’s actions were, justifying the use of force.

The handgun recovered on the scene was photographed and revealed at the press conference. Investigators found Guardados fingerprints on the trigger, the gun’s magazine and trigger guard.

Marks also disclosed that Guardado did not have a security uniform or a gun belt. He also said that his age prevented him from working as an armed security guard, since the minimum age is 21 in California. He said that they are still awaiting the results of a few warrants regarding people being interviewed.

In addition to the update, Villanueva announced that the Sheriff department will finally move forward with equipping deputies with body cameras.

According to the Los Angeles Times, there are still no plans within the agency for audio recorders or dash cams on the dept vehicles. The Sheriff department lagged behind other agencies such as the LAPD, which has started using body cameras in 2015.

“I wanted to inform you that yesterday afternoon… we entered an agreement with Axon for the body worn cameras.”

According the Villanueva, this agreement was a “20 month battle” that needed to be resolved in a political climate where civil unrest and widespread calls for police reforms are mainstream, and many doubt the credibility of officers.

“This was too late for this particular case, but moving forward this is going to be very important in terms of transparency and restoring any loss of trust that members of community experience with the sheriff’s department,” said Villanueva.