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We Just Want Answers:’ Police Shooting of California Teen Renews Protests and Conversations Around Body Cameras, Independent Investigations

June 23, 2020

Over the weekend, several outlets reported Andres Guardado, an 18-year-old man, was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff on Thursday evening near a Gardena auto body shop. The details of the shooting are still being released, but reports have confirmed that Guardado was shot six times in the torso and the deputy sheriff was not wearing a body camera during the time of the incident. 

“We just want answers,” said Celina Abarca, Guardado’s cousin, told CNN

Although California has some of the strongest gun safety laws in the country, there are no state laws requiring body cameras to be worn by police officers. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told CNN his department is working with the county to get body cameras for the department. 

A growing collection of research largely demonstrates that body-worn cameras are effective in strengthening community perceptions of the police and reducing use-of-force incidents and complaints — especially if there is clear policy stating when cameras must be turned on. The use of cameras is broadly supported by the reform community, can make officers refrain from abusive conduct, and can be critical for accountability after officers shoot civilians. Departments should have clear policies on when body worn cameras must be on, and should collect data to assess their impacts on outcomes such as use of force incidents and complaints by victim demographics, as well as assaults on officers.

Since Guardado’s death, protests have been organized demanding justice. U.S. Reps. Nanette Barragán and Maxine Waters and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas have also called for body camera laws and a transparent and independent investigation into the shooting. 

Guardado’s family, who are El Salvadoran, gathered on Sunday at the body shop for a march to honor him. They wore the blue and white of the El Salvadoran flag — and the blue and white of the Los Angeles Dodgers, of which Guardado was a fan.

Black and brown Americans are far more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts, and data from The Guardian shows that most people killed by police are killed with guns. Further, according to data from Mapping Police Violence, Black Americans are nearly 3 times more likely than their white peers to be shot and killed by police. In the last decade, nearly 200 Black Americans and nearly 500 Latino Americans were killed by police in California. On average, 95 percent of police killings involve a gun.

Research finds that meaningful use of force policies reduce police shootings. By encouraging de-escalation, utilizing early intervention systems, and ensuring that officers who act in a manner that is criminally negligent can be held accountable, use of force policies can ensure that laws help advance safety and promote trust in the police.

In California, Black people are 10 times as likely as white people to die by gun homicide. California also has the sixteenth highest gun homicide rate among Hispanic residents in the country. Information about gun violence in California is available here.

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