Inquest Confirms Andres Guardado's Death Was a Homicide
Guardado was shot five times in the back while working as a security guard at an auto body shop in California last summer.
An inquest into the death of Andres Guardado has confirmed the 18-year-old's death as a homicide. Last year, Guardado was shot five times in the back while working as a security guard at an auto body shop. The deputies involved in his killing, Miguel Vega and Chris Hernandez, allegedly saw him with a gun. Guardado then ran away, and deputies chased him into an alley. While a 40-caliber semiautomatic pistol that hadn't been fired was found at the scene, authorities were unable to clarify whether Guardado ever aimed the gun at the deputies.
The inquest into his death was the first in Los Angeles County in more than 30 years. Former Court of Appeals Justice Candace Cooper, who conducted the inquest, came to the conclusion that Guardado's death was a homicide.
"Justice Cooper has confirmed what we knew all along," Guardado's parents, Cristobal and Elisa Guardado, said in a statement. The medical cause of his death was multiple gunshot wounds, and the manner of death was "by the hands of another person other than by accident," Cooper wrote in her findings.
Cooper said she based her findings on the testimonies of medical experts, investigators, and witnesses to the shooting, as well as subpoenaed records from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Deputy Vega, who opened fire, did not attend the proceeding, but submitted a declaration "indicating that if he were to appear and be questioned at the inquest, he would assert his Fifth Amendment right not to testify." Deputy Hernandez, who didn't shoot, repeatedly refused to answer questions, claiming he was invoking his Fifth Amendment rights.
The decision to charge the deputies or not will fall to recently elected District Attorney George Gascón.
The Guardados filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Los Angeles County and its sheriff's department two months before the inquest, and are now urging Gascón to "do what the Sheriff's Department has not, and that is to take action and hold these deputies accountable for their criminal actions."
"Andres was a good person with his whole life ahead of him," they said. "That life was violently taken from him, and we suffer the consequences as his killers remain free. Our family will not rest until we have justice for Andres."