Lead Story West Edition

Separate probe sought in police killing of local teen

COMPTON — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors June 23 joined others in calling for an independent investigation into the death of an 18-year-old security guard shot to death by deputies from the Compton Sheriff’s Station June 18.

Acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the board asked that the Sheriff’s Department’s inspector general be given immediate and full access to all evidence requested in order to provide independent oversight.

The motion also directs the county counsel, in consultation with the inspector general, the Civilian Oversight Commission and other agencies, to report back to the board with alternative plans to ensure an independent investigation in this case, including the involvement of the state attorney general to oversee the investigation.

Andres Guardado was shot and killed outside an auto body shop where he worked as a security guard at 400 E. Redondo Blvd., in an unincorporated county territory between Compton and Gardena.

Sheriff’s Department Homicide Capt. Kent Wegener told reporters that Guardado was talking with someone in a car when two deputies on patrol arrived at 5:52 p.m. June 18 at the Freeway Body Shop, in the 400 block of West Redondo Beach Boulevard, near Figueroa Street.

“Guardado reportedly looked toward the deputies, produced a handgun and ran southbound down the driveway of the business,” Wegener said. Deputies chased and caught up with him behind the business, where one deputy fired six shots at him, striking him in the upper body.

Family and friends told reporters that Guardado was shot in the back.

Family members held a protest march June 21 from the scene of the shooting to the Compton Sheriff’s Station. At the station, demonstrators squared off against deputies who were blocking the doors.

What provoked the use of less-than-lethal force by the deputies was unclear, but they began firing pepper balls and rubber bullets into the crowd, which sent people running in all directions, according to media reports from the scene.

The deputies then declared the demonstration an “unlawful assembly,” which resulted in the arrests of seven people for misdemeanors.

“Six of the people were arrested for unlawful assembly and one was jailed for resisting an officer,” Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez said. No injuries were immediately reported.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva held a press conference June 20 to defend his deputies. He said that Guardado was carrying an unregistered handgun with an illegal ammunition magazine, and was not wearing clothing identifying himself as a security guard. At 18, he was too young to be certified by the state as a security guard, Villanueva added.

U.S. Reps. Maxine Waters and Nanette Barragan were the first officials to call for an independent investigation into Guardado’s death.

“Another day, and another Black or brown kid has been shot by police,” Barragan and Waters said in a joint statement. “These killings must stop. … We demand answers and call for an independent investigation in this tragic death. There must be full transparency so the public can trust the investigation and we know we are getting the truth.

“Andres Guardado is the latest young man of color killed by police gunfire. He was shot in the back. The officers involved did not wear body cameras,” the legislators wrote.

Villanueva blamed the Board of Supervisors, specifically Ridley-Thomas, for his deputies not wearing body cameras. That led to a battle between the two on Twitter.

“Reporters should ask the sheriff why he continues to blame the Board of Supervisors for his dereliction,” said Ridley-Thomas. “Read the Inspector General’s report on body warn cameras for the truth.”

“Facts don’t lie @mridleythomas, you alone authored a motion to delay the body worn camera (BWC) project by six months,” countered Villanueva.  “You also sold out undocumented inmates to the Trump administration for $13.7 million from 2014-2018.”

Villanueva, acting out of what he called “an abundance of caution” asked for state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to monitor the Guardado investigation. 

The Guardado shooting came two days after the Compton City Council approved an urgency motion to establish a law enforcement review board that will serve as a direct link for Compton residents to communicate and submit concerns regarding interactions with the Sheriff’s Department.

Issues with law enforcement have also crossed the desk of Compton school board, which is looking into ways to “reimagine” their school district police department.

“The Compton Unified School District began the process of reimagining the role of law enforcement in school earlier this year, as a part of our evaluating across our entire district, the strategic and systemic innovations to improve the wellbeing of students while addressing issues of equity,” school board President Micah Ali said. 

“Such systemic improvements would include investing in social-emotional learning, expanded access to dual high school-college enrollment programs, ensuring that students feel welcomed and supported on campus, that students of color are represented in the district’s decisions, leadership and programs.”