Former LASD deputy who shot Andres Guardado will not be prosecuted in killing

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Friday, April 14, 2023
Ex-LASD deputy who shot Andres Guardado will not be charged in killing
A former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy will not face charges in the killing of an 18-year-old man who was shot in the back. Prosecutors cited a lack of sufficient evidence in the case.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy will not face criminal charges in the killing of Andres Guardado, an 18-year-old man who was shot in the back several times during a confrontation in Gardena.

"Based on the totality of the circumstances and available evidence, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Deputy Vega did not act in lawful self-defense," the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, referring to Miguel Vega, said in a 31-page memo on Friday.

Sheriff's officials have said Guardado displayed a handgun when Vega and fellow Deputy Christopher Hernandez spotted him in June 2020 outside an auto body shop where his family said he worked as a security guard.

Guardado had surrendered after a foot chase, placed the handgun on the ground and was lying face down when Vega approached to cinch handcuffs around the teenager's wrists, Vega's attorney previously said.

According to the deputy's account, Guardado reached for the gun, prompting Vega to fire six shots, five of which hit Guardado in the back. Hernandez did not open fire in the incident, which led to widespread protests.

"My heart goes out to the Guardado family," District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement Friday. "Nothing that my office can do will mitigate the unimaginable pain that those that knew and loved Andres must be feeling."

The decision to not prosecute Vega "doesn't validate the actions of these officers. They have a troubling background of misconduct & that was thoroughly considered," Gascón said. "Sadly, at the end of the day we do not believe that there is enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt."

Two Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies are accused of violating the rights of a skateboarder who had mouthed off to them.

In November, the Board of Supervisors voted to approve an $8 million settlement to pay Guardado's family.

His father, Cristobal Guardado, said at the time that while the settlement brought closure, the family would not have peace until the deputy was held criminally responsible.

The Guardado family, through an attorney, expressed deep disappointment in the decision by Gascón not to criminally charge Vega.

"Since Andrés' death, Deputy Vega and his partner, Deputy Christopher Hernandez, have been stripped of their badges and federally indicted on charges of civil rights violations and obstruction of justice for an incident that occurred just weeks before they chased Andrés down an alleyway and shot him five times in the back. Sheriff's Department officials knew these deputies were unfit to be on the streets, or serve our communities, yet they were not timely disciplined or removed from their positions. If the Sheriff's Department had done so, Andrés would still be alive today," the statement read.

"The family truly believes, regardless of the District Attorney's decision, that Deputy Vega and Deputy Hernandez shot Andrés in the back for no justifiable reason," the statement continued.

This week, in a separate case, prosecutors announced that Vega and Hernandez were charged with violating the civil rights of a 23-year-old skateboarder by falsely imprisoning him in a patrol vehicle before a chase that ended in a crash. The deputies are accused of obstructing justice to cover up the illegal detention.

Vega and Hernandez surrendered to authorities Thursday after being named in a five-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on March 21, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.