LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office began an inquest Monday into the death of 18-year-old Andres Guardado, who was shot in the back this summer by a sheriff’s deputy after running from authorities at an auto shop near Gardena, where he was employed as an informal security guard.
The inquest, the first in Los Angeles County in more than 30 years, was conducted by retired Court of Appeals Justice Candace D. Cooper, who has also served as Superior and Municipal Court judge and on the California Court of Appeals.
Among the highlights of this morning’s session so far include when Dr. Kevin Young, who signed the autopsy report, reviewed his previous findings that Guardado was shot five times in the back.
Cooper announced at the conclusion of Young’s testimony that she decided against releasing the autopsy photos into the public record, only diagrams showing the locations of the wounds.
Lianna Darabedyan, a coroner’s investigator assigned to the case, testified that a gun was found no more than 5 feet to the right side of Guardado’s
head as his body lay face-down on the ground.
First responder Andrew Clemens, a county firefighter/paramedic who responded to the scene June 18, said Guardado was pronounced dead within about three minutes after the arrival of paramedics.
Another county firefighter/paramedic confirmed the circumstances of the death, and Cooper excused other firefighter/paramedics from testifying, because their testimony would be duplicative.
“The Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner is committed to transparency and providing the residents of Los Angeles County an independent assessment of its findings in this case,” Dr. Jonathan Lucas, the county’s chief medical examiner-coroner, said in a statement on Nov. 10 that announced the inquest. “An inquest ensures that our residents will have an independent review of all the evidence and findings of our office and of the cause and manner of death of Mr. Guardado.”
Guardado was fatally shot near the Gardena auto body shop where had been working as an informal security guard while running away from two deputies who alleged the teen was reaching for a gun. His family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the two deputies involved in Guardado’s death.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to request the inquest after allegations that the sheriff’s department was refusing to cooperate with monitoring of their investigations. Inspector General Max Huntsman told the Board of Supervisors says his staff had been locked out of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department computers, and that the deputy who shot Guardado didn’t give a statement for weeks.
The demands for transparency are another broadside in Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s war of words with the Board of Supervisors and other county officials, and his department has sued Huntsman, accusing him of conspiracy, unauthorized computer access and theft of confidential files.
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