Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, issued the following statement in response to recent reports that four members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) refused to testify in the coroner’s inquest into the June 18, 2020 shooting death of Andres Guardado:
“It is outrageous that the officers involved in the killing of Andres Guardado are now refusing to testify in the coroner’s inquest into Guardado’s death. It is this type of obfuscation by the LASD that has fueled decades-long outrage and resentment among the communities who find themselves victims of police violence time and time again. LASD has a known history of serious abuses and allegations of misconduct that include racist gangs, the targeting of people of color, and shootings of civilians.
“On June 18th, Andres Guardado, who was just 18 years old, became a victim of unacceptable police violence after sustaining five gunshot wounds to his back at the hands of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies. Let me be clear that from the very beginning of this case, there has been a complete lack of transparency and information from the Sheriff’s department, which also put a “security hold” on Andres’ autopsy report in an effort to prevent it from being made public.
“It now appears that in another move designed to prevent any answers from coming to light, Deputies Miguel Vega, who opened fire, and his partner Chris Hernandez, as well as two homicide detectives investigating the case are all refusing to testify in the coroner’s inquest by not answering any questions about what led up to the tragic and unfortunate murder of Andres Guardado. To make matters worse, Miguel Vega, the deputy who killed Andres after firing five bullets into his back, could not even be bothered to show up for the hearing and was instead out of the country. This is unacceptable, outrageous, and is nothing short of an affront to justice for Andres, his family, and our community. It cannot be lost on us that the two officers directly involved in Guardado’s death were identified by a whistleblower within the LASD as alleged members of the “Executioner’s Gang,” a rogue, violent gang operating within the department that sets illegal arrest quotas, threatens and harasses fellow officers, and even holds parties after shootings.
“As was indicated by Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson, one can only conclude that this is a coordinated effort designed to protect the Sheriff’s office and make it more difficult for the truth to come out about what really happened on June 18, 2020. Sheriff Villanueva and all those involved in this effort cannot and must not be excused from this.
“In an effort to ensure transparency and accountability, I, along with Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán, requested that Attorney General Xavier Becerra investigate the killing of Andres Guardado. Separately, Sheriff Villanueva also requested that Attorney General Becerra monitor their investigation. Attorney General Becerra declined both requests.
“The truth is that for too long our community has suffered at the hands of rogue officers who take it upon themselves to be the arbiters of life and death and we are determined to get justice for Andres and the many others like him who have been unjustly taken from us. Andres’ family deserves justice. They deserve answers and they deserve transparency and accountability. I will not rest until all the facts about what led up to the killing of Andres Guardado are fully disclosed.
“For all of these reasons, I will be formally requesting that the Attorney General of the United States investigate this as a civil rights violation. Enough is enough.”