The parents of Andres Guardado, who died in a police shooting in June, are claiming an excessive use of force was used by deputies in a lawsuit filed this week.
By Gabriel Arizon, Editor-in-Chief
The family of Andres Guardado, an 18-year-old LACCD student who was fatally shot in the back by a deputy, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Tuesday afternoon, alleging an unreasonable use of lethal force.
On June 18, Guardado — who attended LA Trade-Technical College — was working as a security guard at an auto body shop in Gardena, according to NBC News. Deputies Miguel Vega and Chris Hernandez were on patrol and approached him and alleged that Guardado had a gun on his waistband. Guardado ran and the deputies pursued him into an alley in the back of the building.
According to Vega’s account as reported by the LA Times, Guardado surrendered and was lying face down, placing the handgun on the ground. When the deputy approached to put him in handcuffs, Guardado reached for his gun, prompting Vega to fire his weapon, shooting the 18 year old five times in the back. Neither deputy was wearing body cameras, and officers were unable to find video footage from nearby businesses. The family’s attorneys stated the deputies had no justification for chasing or shooting Guardado.
“The Guardado family deserves their day in court and they are now taking the first step toward getting justice,” Attorney Nicholas Yoka said in a statement. “By filing this lawsuit, we are not only committing to expose the truth surrounding the unjustified shooting of Andres Guardado, but seeking to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again.”
The complaint also alleges the deputies “had possible affiliations” with a violent gang within the Compton station from which Vega and Hernandez are based. In a report by Spectrum News, Vega was a prospective member of a clique called the Executioners at the time of the shooting. According to whistleblower Art Gonzalez, a deputy at the station, he described multiple deputies having matching tattoos of skeletons with Nazi imagery and AK-47s, indicating membership. Gonzalez claimed the gang’s “shot caller” controlled the work schedule and their actions boosted arrest numbers.
“There are parties after shootings,” Gonzalez said. “They call them ‘998 parties.’ Some people say it’s to celebrate [when] the deputy is alive. Others say it’s to celebrate that they’re going to be ‘inking’ somebody.”
Vega’s attorney, Adam Marangell, labeled those claims as “absolutely false” in a statement to NBC News, and said the Guardado family’s lawsuit “is filled with reckless and erroneous allegations.”
Details about the Executioners first emerged in a civil case after the 2016 shooting of Donta Taylor, a 31-year-old man killed during a foot chase, according to the LA Times. Samuel Aldama, one of the deputies involved, admitted under oath to having a tattoo on his calf of a skeleton equipped with a military-style helmet and rifle surrounded by flames, along with the letters ‘CPT’ for Compton. The Taylor family settled the suit for $7 million in 2019.
The investigation to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against Vega and Hernandez is still ongoing. We will update this story as more details follow.