Things That Matter

Los Angeles Coroner Ordered a Rare Inquest Into the Police Shooting of Andrés Guardado

Photo by DAVID MCNEW/AFP via Getty Images

Months after the country was enraged at the seemingly unjustified killing of Andrés Guardado, the Los Angeles coroner is finally ordering an official inquest into the death of the 18-year-old  Salvadoran-American. It will be the first of such an inquest in Los Angeles in 30 years. 

The coroner’s decision is in direct conflict with the LA Sheriff’s department’s wishes. The LAPD had requested a “security hold” on the case, which initially kept Guardado’s autopsy and cause of death under wraps.

The LA County coroner wrote that he is “committed to transparency and providing the residents of Los Angeles County an independent assessment of its findings” in the case of Guardado’s death. He continued: “An inquest ensures that our residents will have an independent review of all the evidence and findings of our office and of the cause and manner of death of Mr. Guardado.”

An inquest will allow for the coroner’s office to subpoena witnesses and gather evidence that it will present to an independent officer to make an assessment. 

Andrés Guardado was shot in the back five times and subsequently killed by Deputies Miguel Vega and Chris Hernandez in July of this year. Guardado was working as an unofficial security guard at an auto body shop in Compton when he allegedly fled the location when he saw the two police officers approaching. The officers claim that Guardado produced a gun at some point while he was running from them. The autopsy report shows that he was laying on the ground when he was shot. 

Guardado’s family claims that the killing was both unprompted and unjustified. They believe that Guardado fled from the police officers because he was frightened of police officers during a time of immense volatility between police officers and communities of color. 

“My brother was frightened,” Andrés’s sister Jennifer Guardado told local news shortly after his death. “He ran away because he knew what was gonna happen.”

The family has since come forward saying that they believe the police officers involved in the shooting were a part of a violent Los Angeles-based police gang who “were possibly acting in connection and in agreement with” other police gang members. The Guardado family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Los Angeles County and its sheriff’s department.

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been vocal about his displeasure with the LA Coroner’s decision. At a press conference, he called the inquest a “circus stunt” and claimed that the coroner “sacrificed the integrity of the investigation in a bid to satisfy public curiosity.”

But the Los Angeles community, by in large, seems to stand by the coroner’s decision. “An independent review should not be rare, it should be the norm,” wrote Ventura resident Elidet Bordon on Twitter. “I hope Andres Guardado and his family get the justice he deserves.”

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Comedian Joe ‘El Cholo’ Luna Dies From COVID-19 Just Days After He Posts a Video Describing His ‘Journey’ on Instagram

Things That Matter

Comedian Joe ‘El Cholo’ Luna Dies From COVID-19 Just Days After He Posts a Video Describing His ‘Journey’ on Instagram

Photo: joeelcholo/Instagram

Another day, another tragic COVID-19 related death. On November 3rd, a Los Angeles comedian Joe “El Cholo” Luna passed away from the coronavirus.

Throughout his battle with COVID-19, Luna documented his struggle through social media.

Just two days before he passed away, Luna posted a video on Instagram chronicling his COVID-19 journey. He shared the video with his followers for “educational purposes”. In the video, Luna got extremely candid about the realities of the deadly illness.

“Let me tell you, man, when I would hear people talk about what COVID did to them, I always said to myself, ‘You know what? I doubt it’s that bad’,” he says in the video. “I’ll tell you guys right now, I’ve been putting up a fight. I’ve been fighting for my life for the last week or so, man. This COVID shit is no joke.”

Luna described his symptoms: losing his taste and smell, fainting, having trouble breathing, fevers, chills, chest pains. He also contracted pneumonia. At one point, he even lost consciousness.

Luna explained that he had been discharged from the hospital a few days ago simply to be taken back to the hospital via an ambulance. “I ended up passing out,” he said in the clip.

He also revealed that his mother, his girlfriend, and his children had tested positive for the virus. His mother was also hospitalized with COVID-19 and pneumonia.

Luna was a diabetic and had previously lost both of his legs due to the disease. According to him, COVID-19 hit him especially hard due to his preexisting conditions.

Luna’s family and community mourn the loss of a vibrant man who had been full of humor and light when he was alive.

“We are currently all mourning him because not only was he a great son, dad, hubby but also a best friend to many of us,” wrote Blanca Castro on his GoFundMe page.

She continued: “He fought hard after losing both legs to stay ok. He fought hard with the everyday pain. He was my comedian superhero. Even when he was hurting he managed to put a smile on our faces.”

Because of his father’s bright spirit, his family insists on celebrating his death the way he would have wanted: with humor. “For his funeral, he doesn’t want anyone crying so we’re going to put together a show because that’s what he would have wanted,” said his son, Jose Talavera, to Fox 11 News. “He wanted people to be laughing and having fun,” said Talavera.

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Menendez Brother Of 1989 Murders Forced Into Solitary Confinement After Receiving Hoax Marijuana Package In Prison

Things That Matter

Menendez Brother Of 1989 Murders Forced Into Solitary Confinement After Receiving Hoax Marijuana Package In Prison

Photo by Kypros/Getty Images

Just when you thought the Menendez brothers would be out of the public eye for good, a bizarre story thrusts them back into the spotlight.

Back in October, TMZ reported that Erik Menendez (of the notorious Menendez brothers murder duo) had received a package of marijuana at the R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego.

Before the package could reach Menendez’s hands, a prison official intercepted it. Shortly after, Menendez was moved into solitary confinement, as receiving recreational drugs in jail is definitely a no-go.

According to TMZ, prison officials were investigating whether Menendez “planned on either distributing the weed or using it as currency, or whether it was just for his personal use.” But now, the case is closed.

Per the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, “the investigation is complete and the allegations against him were unfounded.”

There is no word about who would have thought to send Erik Menendez a package of marijuana while he is literally in federal prison. Sounds like someone who is almost as unhinged as he is.

Erik Mendenez, along with his brother Lyle Menendez, are both serving life sentences without parole for the murder of their parents, José and Kitty, Menéndez in 1989.

Back in the day, the trial of the Cuban-American Menendez brothers captured the attention of the nation.

The crime was incredibly unusual. Not only was it uncommon for two children to team up on the murder of both their parents, but the Menendez brothers seemingly had it all. The Menendez family was extremely wealthy and the boys were incredibly privileged–Lyle even attended Princeton University before he was suspended for plagiarism.

On August 20, 1989, a hysterical Lyle Hernandez called 911, claiming his parents had been murdered in their Beverly Hills home. When police arrived at the scene, they found José and Kitty Menéndez dead. José had been shot five times, while Kitty had been shot 10 times.

At first, 21-year-old Lyle and and 18-year-old Erik played the roles of grieving sons perfectly, so police didn’t suspect them.

But soon, the boys’ facades began to unravel. In the months following their parents’ vicious murders, Erik and Lyle began to spend their late parents’ fortune with abandon, buying luxury purchases like expenses watches and private tennis lessons.

The lavish spending provided police with an otherwise-absent motive and they began to investigate the brothers for their parents’ murders. In March of 1990, both brothers were arrested for the murder of their parents.

The two brothers claimed that they had been tortured by years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their parents. The subsequent trial became a media sensation–America was fascinated by these rich, seemingly innocent young men who murdered their parents in cold blood. After a long and drawn-out trial, the brothers were sentenced to life imprisonment without parole in July of 1996. They have been serving out their sentences ever since.

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