The official autopsy report for Andres Guardado, an 18-year-old security guard killed by Los Angeles police last month, revealed that a deputy shot him in the back five times.
The findings from the Los Angeles county coroner, released on Friday, confirm an independent autopsy report released earlier this week by a family attorney. The sheriff’s department had faced intense scrutiny over its initial decision to request the findings be kept confidential under a security hold.
Guardado was shot on the evening of 18 June during a foot pursuit and a full autopsy was conducted 22 June.
All five gunshot wounds were fatal and there were also graze wounds on the forearms as well as secondary fragment wounds, the report said.
“The findings of both autopsies are indisputable, and establish that Andres’ death was, without a doubt, the result of unjustified police violence against an innocent young man,” Adam Shea, an attorney for the family, said on Friday.
Dr Jonathan Lucas, the chief medical examiner-coroner, said in a statement he had “given careful consideration to the major variables in this case” before releasing the findings, including “supporting the administration of justice, as well as the public’s right to know. I do not believe that these are mutually exclusive ideals. Both are important, particularly amid the ongoing national discussion about race, policing and civil rights,” he said.
Lucas said he believes government can be more timely and transparent in sharing information that the public has a right to see.
“The cause of death is multiple gunshot wounds. The range of fire is unknown by autopsy. The manner of death is homicide,” said the report signed by deputy medical examiner Dr Kevin Young.
The sheriff’s department has said the shooting occurred in an unincorporated area near the city of Gardena after two deputies on patrol spotted Guardado with a gun and he ran.
The department has not released its account of exactly how the shooting occurred but an attorney for the deputy who fired did give a narrative earlier this week.
The deputies have been identified by their lawyers as Miguel Vega, who fired his gun, and Chris Hernandez, who did not fire.
Vega’s attorney, Adam Marangell said in a statement that the deputies saw Guardado with a gun in his front waistband, and he ran from them down a driveway.
According to the account, Vega told Guardado to stop multiple times as he pulled the gun from his waistband and kept running.
Guardado then stopped, turned around, and raised both hands in the air while still holding the gun, then followed the deputies’ orders to put the gun on the ground and lay face down, Marangell said.
The lawyer said that Vega ultimately chose to “fire in self-defense”, alleging that Guardado attempted to grab his gun on the ground.
The shooting was not caught on camera.
Hernandez’s lawyer, Tom Yu, said his client feared for his safety during the chase but he had no other details about the pursuit.
In a statement earlier this week after the family learned that Guardado was shot in the back, his parents, Cristobal and Elisa Guardado, said in a statement that the “findings confirm what we have known all along, which is that Andres was unjustifiably killed”, adding: “Andres was a good boy, he was our son and he had so much life ahead of him. Our son did not deserve to die this way.”
Friends and relatives have said Guardado worked as a security guard at a nearby auto body shop while he was learning to be a mechanic.
The sheriff’s department, the largest county agency in the country, has a long history of brutality and corruption cases, along with controversial killings of Black and Latino residents.
In his statement on Friday, Shea, the family attorney, criticized the department for continuing to refuse to disclose details of what led to the shooting “and bury the truth about what happened in the moments before Andres’ life was taken”, adding: “How long must the Guardado family wait for the department do the right thing?”