LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s chief of staff is being reassigned after comments he made on the CBS Los Angeles Facebook page about Andres Guardado, an 18-year-old shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies last month.
Capt. John Burcher wrote, “CBS.. So much coverage over Guardado. What about Isabella Cortes and Patricia Alotorre?? Why does this guy, who CHOSE his destiny get so much coverage by you, but the two slain, one raped and slain, 13 year old girls get NOTHING??”
Burcher, who had been one of Villanueva’s most trusted advisors, made the comments about the news that the coroner’s office had released the autopsy report that confirmed Guardado was shot in the back five times.
“That’s offensive, and it’s vulgar,” Spencer Lucas, the Guardado family attorney, said. “We have to ask the question, if the chief of staff is coming out socially making these vulgar and offensive comments, what’s going on inside Alex Villanueva’s department when they’re trying to conduct this investigation over the last month.”
Burcher’s comments led to an argument on Facebook, with posts originally under his full name, now appearing under the name Jpb Murphy. In one, Burcher called one commenter an idiot and an expletive, while stating that Guardado was not murdered.
“Read the article,” Burcher wrote. “That dude had a ghost gun, and was reaching for it.”
Los Angeles County Inspector General Max Huntsman said the comments make it appear that Burcher has “to some degree” already prejudged the case, which remains under investigation.
Huntsman has been openly critical of the investigation and the sheriff’s refusal to allow oversight into the case.
“He’s part of the sheriff’s inner circle,” Huntman said. “So, I don’t think whatever opinions he had he developed all on his own. And when the chief of staff has announced what the outcome should be, it’s hard for the investigators doing the work not to be influenced by that.”
The sheriff’s department said it has initiated an administrative investigation into Burcher’s online comments, though attorneys for the Guardado family said this shows that an independent investigation into the fatal shooting was needed.