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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Apparently Cops Are Playing Music While Being Filmed And It’s For A Very Sinister Reason

Things That Matter

Apparently Cops Are Playing Music While Being Filmed And It’s For A Very Sinister Reason

Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Over the past few years, cops sure have become increasingly vocal about their disdain of average citizens exercising their constitutional right to record interactions with authorities. It’s almost as if many of them feel they are above the law itself.

Now, some officers appear to be trying to evade videos of them circulating on social media through a crafty — if not exactly airtight — strategy: playing copyrighted music loudly and for long enough to be flagged by automatic censoring software on apps like Instagram.

A report has emerged of police using copyrighted music to trigger social media takedowns.

According to VICE News, a well-known LA activist went into the Beverly Hills Police Department to obtain body cam footage from a recent traffic stop. Sennett Devermont, the activist, did what he normally does during his interactions with police and live-streamed the interaction to his more than 300,000 followers on Instagram.

It all started out friendly and chill, however, things got weird when the officer started scrolling through his phone. Shortly after, Sublime’s hit from the 90s, “Santeria”, started playing and the officer stopped talking.

Sir, you’re putting on music while I’m trying to talk to you. Can you turn that off? It’s a little ridiculous,” Devermont can be heard saying, followed by a sizable pause from Sgt. Fair. “I’m just trying to see how many people are watching this. Since you didn’t answer my simple question, I tried to find it myself,” the officer finally replies from behind a Blue Lives Matter face mask, alluding to their discussion from a few moments earlier regarding how many people might be watching the livestream.

A separate encounter with the same officer plays within the same edited clip near what appears to be an active crime scene. “What — why are you playing music?” repeats Devermont, to which Sgt. Fair teasingly asks, “What? I can’t hear you.”

So is it working?

Theoretically, the strategy could make the videos subject to content flagging, or even account suspensions and bans. That said, Instagram’s content monitoring algorithms are inconsistent at best, and every upload of Devermont’s encounters remain on the social media app.

In most cases, filming on-duty police is an American right protected by the First Amendment. Law enforcement is more aware of this than most citizens, so people like Sgt. Fair and others know exactly what they are doing when they start playing music. The question is whether these are the acts of a few industrious police, or a recommended policy handed down from on high.

Take all this as a polite reminder that it is absolutely legal to film cops in situations like the ones in these videos, and you should feel free to do so if inclined. There are even apps to help you do just that, so don’t let Sublime’s “Santeria” — or any other tunes, even ones you hate — dissuade you.

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Mexican Police Officers Arrested In Connection With Migrant Massacre Near U.S.-Mexico Border

Things That Matter

Mexican Police Officers Arrested In Connection With Migrant Massacre Near U.S.-Mexico Border

Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images

News of Mexico’s latest bloody massacre shocked the world. Nineteen bodies had been found near the U.S.-Mexico border with gun wounds and they had been burned to try and conceal the crimes.

Quickly it began to become clear that most of the victims were migrants en route to the U.S. from Central America, including many Guatemalan citizens. Now, new evidence shows that state police officers were likely involved in the murders and attempted coverup.

The massacre is the latest chapter in Tamaulipas’ history of police corruption. Most towns and cities in the state saw their municipal police forces dissolved years ago, because officers were often in the pay of the cartels. A more professional state police force was supposed to be the answer, a belief that came crashing down with the arrests announced yesterday.

Officials have arrested 12 police officers in connection to the deadly massacre.

A dozen state police officers were arrested in connection with the killings of 19 people, including Guatemalan migrants, whose bodies were found shot and burned near the U.S. border late last month.

Tamaulipas state Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica announced that all 12 officers were in custody and face charges of homicide, abuse of authority and making false statements.

The victims were found piled up in a charred pickup truck in Camargo, across the Rio Grande from Texas, in an area that has been bloodied for years by turf battles between the remnants of the Gulf cartel and the old Zetas cartel. Another burned vehicle was found at the scene and authorities say it had been seized by immigration officials in a raid that detained 66 migrants on their way to the U.S.

The motive behind the massacre is still unclear.

The attorney general did not say what motive the officers might have had, though corrupt local and state police in Mexico are often in the pay of drug cartels. It’s also common for cartels to charge migrant smugglers for crossing their territory, and kidnap or kill migrants whose smugglers have paid a rival gang.

Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero said that immigration agents tied to the case had been fired, though she provided no details on their number or their alleged role.

“These violations of the rights of migrants are absolutely unacceptable,” Sánchez Cordero said. She said no member of the security forces or immigration authority was above the law.

Since many of the victims have been identified as Guatemalan migrants, authorities are trying to find their families.

Credit: JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Authorities have said four of the dead have been identified so far — two Guatemalans and two Mexicans. Of the 19 bodies examined by experts, 16 were found to be males, one was confirmed as female and the two others were so badly burned their gender had not yet been determined.

The forensic results confirmed the fears of families in a rural Indigenous farming community in Guatemala who have said they lost contact with 13 migrants as they traveled toward the United States.

Guatemala’s foreign affairs ministry said late Tuesday that it was working closely with Mexican authorities. In a statement, it asked that “the full weight of law be applied to those responsible for such unfortunate events that have Guatemalan families mourning.”

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