LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles County coroner released an autopsy report for an 18-year-old man who was shot in Gardena last month by MPs from the LA County sheriff.
The report reflected the results of an independent autopsy released by the Andres Guardado family earlier this week and found that he was shot in the back five times.
District LA Medical Examiner, Dr. Jonathan Lucas announced that he had decided to defy the sheriff's security restriction on the autopsy report and release it in the public interest.
"After careful consideration, I publish Andres Guardado Pineda's autopsy report," Lucas wrote in a statement. “In this case, I carefully examined the most important variables – the support of the judicial administration and the right of the public to know. I don't think these ideals are mutually exclusive. Both are important, especially in the ongoing national discussion about race, police and civil rights. I believe that the government can do its part by sharing information that the public demands and that they can see in a more timely and transparent manner. "
Los Angeles District Inspector General Max Hunstman, who was present at the autopsy, said Sheriff Alex Villanueva has repeatedly ignored requests for documents and videos from the ongoing investigation.
"The sheriff's department didn't comply with transparency and oversight laws," said Huntsman. "We have state laws and county codes that require cooperation with the Inspector General's office, which I head to oversee many things that happen in the sheriff's department, including shooting investigations, and they refuse to follow."
A statement by family lawyer Adam Shea said his office had received a copy of the report and praised Lucas "that he did the right thing by publishing the report and being on the side of the truth." .
"Even now, the sheriff's department is failing to deliver on its promise of transparency and accountability, both to the Guardado family and to the public for whom it serves," the statement said. "This investigation has been carried out in secrecy from the start, with the cautious intent to delay public disclosure and bury the truth about what happened in the moments before Andre's death. What bureaucratic and procedural blockages will the sheriff's department now lead to further delay justice for Andres and avoid spreading the truth? How long does the Guardado family have to wait for the department to do the right thing? "
Guardado's controversial gunshot death occurred on the evening of June 18 in the 400 block of Redondo Beach Boulevard.
According to the autopsy, which was completed on June 22, Guardado was shot in the back five times and suffered two additional abrasions on both forearms. All five gunshot wounds were fatal. The cause of death confirmed by the coroner on Tuesday was "multiple gunshot wounds".
"The way of death is murder," the autopsy said.
No drugs or alcohol were found in Guardado's system.
On the night of June 18, MPs patrolling the area said they saw Guardado flash a gun and then run south between two companies. The MPs persecuted him and after a short foot pursuit, Guardado was shot. He died at the scene.
Guardado was working as an informal security officer for the freeway body shop at that time. According to the sheriff department, MPs recovered an unregistered pistol with a large-capacity magazine. They also said that he was not licensed and did not wear a uniform.
According to the case report, which was presented along with the results of the Friday autopsy, MPs claimed that Guardado "grabbed his waistband" just before the shot and urged MPs to open fire.
However, the Guardado family has repeatedly denied that he is armed.
"According to family and best friends, he had no gun, had no gun, and had no access to a gun," Shea said at a press conference on June 30.
The family also claimed that witnesses told them Guardado had fled the MPs when he was shot.
The family has requested that security videos from nearby companies be released to see what happened. Another complication is that the sheriff's deputies don't wear body cameras. The department is scheduled to begin equipping its deputies with body cameras later this year.
In a virtual session of the Compton City Council on June 29, LA County's sheriff Alex Villanueva said that his investigators were still following the evidence of potential witnesses and could not publish reports until they were complete.
"It cannot be released until all witnesses have been identified and interviewed," said Villanueva. "Otherwise, we will stain your testimony and achieve a compromised result."
On Friday evening, the department released a statement in response to the publication of the autopsy report, which included:
"The unprecedented publication of Andres Guardado's autopsy report by the coroner Dr. Jonathan Lucas today can jeopardize the investigation, filing of the case and possible future criminal or administrative proceedings. This move will now force the sheriff's department to use court orders to enforce one-purpose security measures – to prevent testimony before interviews from being compromised.
Dr. Lucas has confirmed that he has given in to the pressure from the board of directors and the inspector general, and has now surprisingly admitted that he sacrificed the integrity of the investigation to satisfy public curiosity. "
The doctor's office made a secondary statement on Friday night, denying the claim that the publication of the report was politically motivated.
"The sole purpose and purpose of the Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner is to provide the public with independent, evidence-based death examinations," it said. "We value our political neutrality and reject any opposite characterization."
Deputy Miguel Vega’s lawyer, who fired the shots that killed Guardado, says his client will provide a voluntary statement to investigators on Monday.
"The results of the official autopsy in no way change the ultimate fact that Deputy Vega acted lawfully and lawfully," said attorney Adam L. Marangell's statement. "Deputy Vega did everything he could to avoid firing his weapon that night, and regrets that his actions have resulted in death."