Questions Surround Police Killing of Latino Man in California


Andres Guardado, 18, was killed after showing a weapon and fleeing deputies, according to the authorities. His family said he worked as a security guard.

Elisa Guardado, second from right, is the mother of Andres Guardado, who was fatally shot by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies.
Elisa Guardado, second from right, is the mother of Andres Guardado, who was fatally shot by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies.Credit...Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

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Activists and family members of an 18-year-old Latino man are calling his death in Southern California this week an unjustified police killing.

The man, Andres Guardado, was fatally shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy in Gardena, Calif., after he “produced a firearm” and ran away from two deputies on Thursday night, the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

But it was unclear what led to the confrontation amid weeks of nationwide demonstrations denouncing police brutality and racism. About 20,000 people marched near the Hollywood Walk of Fame this month in a protest organized by Black Lives Matter.

Mr. Guardado was working two jobs as a security guard, and was studying to be a mechanic at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, according to his uncle Noe Abarca. He was killed near an auto body shop that he was providing security for that day, Mr. Abarca said.

Mr. Guardado, whose family is from El Salvador, was dedicated to working and learning his trade, his uncle said. “He was always cheerful — I never saw him sad or angry,” Mr. Abarca said in Spanish. “He had gained the respect and the admiration of our whole family.”

“I haven’t slept in two days,” he added.

The Sheriff’s Department said that two deputies from the Compton Sheriff’s Station pursued Mr. Guardado on foot, and that one deputy fired six rounds, hitting him in the upper torso. Mr. Guardado was not wearing a security guard’s uniform, the department said, and a handgun without identifying marks or serial numbers was recovered at the scene.

The deputies were not wearing body cameras. The department was investigating whether nearby security cameras captured any video of the shooting, Capt. Kent Wegener said at a news conference on Saturday.

The police did not provide more details of the encounter or of the deputies involved.

It is difficult to tell how many Latinos are killed by the police because departments are not required to report consistently on race and ethnicity, said Eric Rodriguez, the senior vice president of policy and advocacy at UnidosUS, an advocacy group for Latinos.

But it is clear that a high percentage of Latinos fear that the police will use excessive force, Mr. Rodriguez said. “Something that is screaming out from the community is the feeling of being over-surveilled,” he said.

The Los Angeles Community College District released a statement supporting Mr. Guardado’s family and calling for a “full and independent investigation into the circumstances of the killing.”

“We must never be desensitized to, or normalized by, the alarming number of deaths by law enforcement of black and brown men and women in this country,” the district said.

On Saturday, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said it was premature to request an independent investigation by the attorney general.

Mr. Guardado and his father would often visit a restaurant owned by Mr. Abarca. But on Sunday — Father’s Day — his father, uncle and other relatives will be marching in a demonstration that begins at the site where Mr. Guardado was killed.

“We will be demanding justice,” Mr. Abarca said.