By Michael G. Stogner
Los Angeles County Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner Jonathan Lucas has announced he is Conducting an Independent Inquest into shooting death by a Sheriff Deputy of 18 year old Andres Guardado. He was shot in the Back 5 times.
Sandra Lee Harmon was shot and killed by San Mateo County Sheriff Deputies in Half Moon Bay on May 5, 2020. She was shot 3 times in the back all 3 shots were fatal. She was shot a total of 8 times out of the 14 shots fired by the two deputies. Deputy Dominguez fired 11 shots and Deputy Baba fired 3 shots. If you add 11 plus 3 you will get a total of 14 shots fired.
During the Special Meeting Half Moon Bay City Council held on September 15, 2020 District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said 11 shots were fired. That is a BIG Difference. What would make him say that obvious False statement. At the 50:47 Mark “We did find 11 Casings” “We found 11 shots and 11 casings and that is exactly, I think that confirms where we were.””That is the answer to that.”
That statement all by itself should be reason enough for the Attorney General of the State of California to open an Independent Criminal Investigation in the Sandra L. Harmon Homicide.
Back to the title of this article. I have personally received an official copy of the Coroner’s Report of the Sandra L. Harmon Homicide. Missing from it was the Diagram of the bullet strikes to the body. Normally I wouldn’t care about this document missing especially since the Report states 3 Fatal Shots to the back. It wasn’t until District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe made a couple of Bizarre statements about Ms. Harmon being shot in the back especially since the Video that Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos provided the public shows her being fired at while she is Unarmed with her hands above her head and her back to Deputy Dominguez which is an illegal act. He ignores that fact, and says, “I do not believe that to be the case.”
Why do we allow the District Attorney to say “He Believes” something, instead of What does the Evidence Prove?
HMBCC Special Meeting 9/15/2020
Update December 1, 2020 The Deputies refuse to Testify
Sheriff’s officials won’t testify in inquest
Deputies, detectives take the 5th in the inquiry into Andres Guardado’s death.
THE KILLING of Andres Guardado inflamed tensions. Above, deputies at a protest in August at the home of the deputy who shot and killed Guardado. (Dania Maxwell Los Angeles Times)
By Alene Tchekmedyian
Four Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials are refusing to testify in the coroner’s inquest into the deputy shooting death of Andres Guardado, invoking their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination even though none of them have been accused of a crime.
Deputies Miguel Vega, who opened fire, and his partner Chris Hernandez, as well as two homicide detectives investigating the case, have indicated they will not answer questions about what led up to the shooting of the 18-year-old Guardado, who was shot five times in the back in an incident that generated weeks of large protests.
A Sheriff’s Department spokesman said each person made the decision on the advice of his legal counsel, not at the direction of Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Legal experts said the move shows a refusal by the Sheriff’s Department to cooperate in a proceeding that Villanueva dismissed in a radio interview last month as a circus stunt.
“I’m sure what they’re thinking is, ‘We don’t know where this is headed. We don’t know who this is going to target. We don’t know if they’re going to claim there’s some kind of cover-up. We don’t know enough not to assert our 5th Amendment right,’ ” said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson, who was not surprised by the move. “I think you can take it for what it is: No one is volunteering from that sheriff’s office to cooperate in that inquiry.”
She added: “It was clearly coordinated. It was clearly designed to protect them, and to make it more difficult to make findings that could be used against them or others.”
Mike Gennaco, a policing expert who used to oversee the Sheriff’s Department, said he was surprised that the two homicide investigators would not testify.
“I find that remarkable and disappointing,” Gennaco said. “They were fact-finders, and there’s no allegation that there was some sort of conspiracy to cover up the facts.”
The coroner’s inquest, the first of its kind in nearly 30 years, was being conducted Monday so a hearing officer, retired Judge Candace Cooper, could determine the cause and manner of death. The coroner’s office has already determined that Guardado died by homicide on June 18 when he was shot five times in the back. The official autopsy report, released in July, determined that all five gunshot wounds were fatal.
Still, the coroner’s office said it ordered up the inquest for an independent review of the findings in the highly scrutinized case “in the interest of public transparency.” The hearing came amid heightened tensions between Villanueva and county officials who accuse him of stonewalling oversight and rebuffing efforts to hold him accountable.
Four witnesses did testify in the morning: the medical examiner who performed the autopsy, a coroner’s investigator who responded to the scene and wrote a summary of the incident, and two firefighters who tried to save Guardado’s life. They answered questions from county attorneys, offering a glimpse into the aftermath of the shooting that the public normally wouldn’t get until a civil or criminal trial.
Kevin Young, a deputy medical examiner, testified that the location of the bullet wounds indicated Guardado had his back to the gun when he was shot, and that he could have been on his knees or lying prone on the ground.
Young said Guardado would have been able to move his hands and arms after he was struck by the first gunshot.
A journalist with L.A. Taco who interviewed a witness whom county officials couldn’t locate and the forensic pathologist who conducted a private autopsy for Guardado’s family testified in the afternoon. In video interviews, the witness told the journalist that Guardado was on his knees with his hands behind his head when he was shot.
The coroner’s office subpoenaed investigative documents from the Sheriff’s Department, which provided them to the hearing officer under seal. Before making her findings, Cooper will also review the department’s earlier news briefings on the shooting investigation.
Cooper said she wouldn’t make a finding Monday and adjourned the hearing, leaving open the possibility of calling more witnesses. It’s unclear when the proceedings will resume, or if there will be an effort to compel the four sheriff’s officials to testify.
Not much of what was presented publicly Monday was new.
Lt. John Satterfield, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman, said the “overwhelming majority” of information presented Monday came from a briefing the Sheriff’s Department held months ago. “If +90% of what was learned today…was (publicly) actually released by the sheriff months ago, how is he stonewalling accountability?” he said in a text.
The inquest was recommended by the Board of Supervisors earlier this year amid nationwide protests over police brutality, with Guardado’s shooting reigniting calls for accountability and transparency within the department.