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LA coroner rules California teen's shooting death by police a homicide

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office determined the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old man by a sheriff’s deputy last month, when he was struck five times in the back, was a homicide, according to the autopsy report released Friday.

The cause of death for Andres Guardado was certified July 7 as multiple gunshot wounds and certified as a homicide, the coroner’s office said in a statement. The report was released despite a security hold that had been requested by the sheriff’s department.

Earlier this week, Guardado’s family released the results of an independent autopsy that also concluded he was shot five times in the back.

A demonstrator holds signs during a protest in honor of Andres Guardado on Sunday, June 28, 2020, in Gardena, Calif. Guardado was shot and killed on June 18 by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy near Gardena. Patrolling deputies said they saw Guardado talking to someone in a car that was blocking a driveway and that Guardado had a gun when he saw deputies and began to run, leading to a chase and the shooting. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

A demonstrator holds signs during a protest in honor of Andres Guardado on Sunday, June 28, 2020, in Gardena, Calif. Guardado was shot and killed on June 18 by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy near Gardena. Patrolling deputies said they saw Guardado talking to someone in a car that was blocking a driveway and that Guardado had a gun when he saw deputies and began to run, leading to a chase and the shooting. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

In a statement, Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner Dr. Jonathan Lucas said he gave consideration to the “major variables” in the case in an effort to balance the administration of justice and the public’s right to know.

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Mourners hold images of Andres Guardado, who was fatally shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy, at a memorial site in Gardena, Calif. A lawyer for the family of a young man killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy said Wednesday that an independent autopsy revealed 18-year-old, Guardado was shot five times in the back. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

Mourners hold images of Andres Guardado, who was fatally shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, at a memorial site in Gardena, Calif. A lawyer for the family of a young man killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy said Wednesday that an independent autopsy revealed 18-year-old, Guardado was shot five times in the back. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

“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. “I believe that government can do its part by being more timely and more transparent in sharing information that the public demands and has a right to see.”

Investigators have said that Guardado was shot June 18 after two deputies on patrol saw him talking to someone in a car blocking a driveway in Gardena, which borders the city of Los Angeles. During the encounter, Guardado produced a handgun and fled, initiating a short foot chase, authorities said.

At some point, one deputy fired. Six bullet casings and a gun were recovered at the scene. Investigators said Guardado did not appear to fire at the deputies. His family said he was working as a security guard for an auto repair shop at the time he died.

The deputy who fired has been identified by local media as Miguel Vega and the other as Chris Hernandez. Both are assigned to the Compton station, authorities said Tuesday.

In a statement to Fox News, Vega’s attorney, Adam Marangell, said his client is cooperating with investigators and will sit down for an interview Monday.

A demonstrator holds signs during a protest in honor of Andres Guardado on last month in Gardena, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

A demonstrator holds signs during a protest in honor of Andres Guardado on last month in Gardena, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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“The official autopsy’s findings do not alter in any way the ultimate fact that Deputy Vega acted properly and lawfully,” Marangell said. “Deputy Vega did everything possible that night to avoid firing his weapon and regrets his actions resulted in a loss of life.

Guardado’s death triggered protests in Los Angeles and calls for greater transparency amid a national reckoning over police policies and tactics.

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