Andres Guardado
Andres Guardado, the 18-year-old man shot and killed in Gardena by a sheriff’s deputy on June 18. Photo courtesy of Andres Guardado's family.

Andres Guardado Coroner’s Inquest Begins; 4 L.A. Sheriffs Refuse to Testify

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Today marks the start of the coroner’s inquest into the death of Andres Guardado, the 18-year-old informal security guard at a Gardena auto body shop who was shot in the back five times by sheriff’s deputy Miguel Vega in June.

This is the first inquest to take place in L.A. County in 30 years. The public proceedings, which are presided over by retired Justice Candace Cooper, reviewed subpoenaed documents and witness testimony. At its conclusion, Cooper will render a finding as to Guardado’s cause and manner of death and provide a recommendation to the coroner’s office.

Vega, who is currently out of the country, did not testify. Instead, he submitted a written declaration via his attorney, according to Spectrum News reporter Kate Cagle.

All four witnesses employed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department invoked their Fifth Amendment right to not provide self-incriminating testimony, according to L.A. Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian.

Today’s proceedings included testimony from deputy medical examiner Dr. Kevin Young, coroner’s investigator Lianna Darabedyan, two county first responders and L.A. Taco reporter Memo Torres, among others.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors requested the inquest following allegations that the LASD was not cooperating with attempts by the Los Angeles County’s Office of Inspector General to oversee their investigations.

“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,” said Dr. Jonathan Lucas, the county’s chief medical examiner-coroner, in a Nov. 10 statement. “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.”

According to Torres, at adjournment, Cooper said she will be seeking advice as to whether LASD officers and investigators are protected under the Fifth Amendment.

In August, LASD deputy Austreberto “Art” Gonzalez named Vega as a prospective member of a secret and violent gang of Compton sheriffs known as “Executioners.”

Los Angeleno