COMPTON, Calif. — Just weeks after the George Floyd uprising, a Los Angeles County deputy shot and killed a teenager in the back five times.
A year later, no one is facing charges, but the outrage over the death of Andrés Guardado is fueling a political movement to oust Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who is up for re-election in 2022. Homicide detectives from the sheriff’s department handed the case to the district attorney in December, who has yet to weigh in on potential charges. There is no body camera video of the incident.
What You Need To Know
- Deputy Miguel Vega shot and killed Andrés Guardado at an auto body shop outside of Compton one year ago
- There is no video of the incident, which ended with the deputy shooting the teenager five times in the back
- The LA County Sheriff's Department handed the case to the District Attorney in December, who has yet to weigh-in on charges
- Vega has been relieved of duty because of a separate incident involving another teenager in Compton
To Andrés' parents, it still feels like he could come home at any minute.
"When I open the door, I wait for his coming," said Cristobal Guardado. "When somebody touches the door, I think... he’s coming to the door. I feel he’s not dead, you know. I feel he’s not dead."
Crisotobal explained how the college student had just started the process of enlisting in the Navy before he died, hoping it would help him become a doctor. Andrés had big dreams for a teen working two jobs to help support the family.
"He was always thinking of helping the family. He always asked, 'How can I help my mom, help my father? I want to help pay the rent.'"
One of those jobs consisted of working as a security guard at an autobody shop, where two deputies pulled up on June 18, 2020. Surveillance video from across the street shows the deputies chase Andrés down an ally, but there is no video of the teen’s final moments.
Deputy Miguel Vega stated in a written declaration that the armed teenager surrendered, placed his gun on the ground and laid on his stomach. Vega said the teenager suddenly reached for it again and that’s when he opened fire and shot Andrés in the back.
Months later, Vega’s colleague, Deputy Art Gonzalez, said Vega was seeking membership in a violent deputy clique in Compton known as the Executioners. Vega has been relieved of duty because of a separate incident involving another teenager who accused him of harassment and falsifying a police report.
Cristobal’s union, Unite Here Local 11, is now leading the charge to oust Villanueva, whom they had supported in 2018.
“We started the campaign ‘adios Villanueva’ because he’s got to go,” said organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez, who first met Cristobal 20 years ago.
Soto-Martinez explained how the union’s campaign is about justice and accountability.
“By far this is the most challenging thing I’ve done for the union. The hurt and the pain is just on another level.”
Villanueva has said his department is investigating the deputy gang claims in Compton but also said the allegations are overblown by plaintiffs seeking million-dollar settlements from the county. The sheriff supports statewide legislation that would ban law enforcement cliques in departments.
His spokesperson, Javier Gonzalez, said activists should focus their concerns on the district attorney, who is now in charge of whether to file charges against Vega.
“Why are they on Villanueva? I think it is because the woke left is not interested in justice, only self-promotion,” Gonzalez said.
Politics aside, the Guardado family said the community’s support has been the silver lining on a devastating year.