CORONER BREAKS PROTOCOL BY RELEASING AUTOPSY RESULTS – JEOPARDIZING INVESTIGATION
July 10, 2020
The unprecedented release of the Andres Guardado autopsy report today by the Medical Examiner-Coroner, Dr. Jonathan Lucas, has the potential to jeopardize the investigation, the filing of the case, and any possible future criminal or administrative proceedings. This move will now force the Sheriff’s Department to use court orders to enforce security holds that exist for only one purpose – to prevent tainting witness testimony prior to interviews. Dr. Lucas has acknowledged succumbing to pressure from the Board of Supervisors and the Office of Inspector General, and has now made the astonishing admission that he sacrificed the integrity of the investigation in a bid to satisfy public curiosity.
In a coordinated release, Supervisor Ridley Thomas lauded the coroner’s efforts, unwittingly demonstrating a poor grasp of both the investigative responsibilities of the Sheriff’s Department and the lack of authority the politically-appointed Inspector General has to interfere with and jeopardize the integrity of criminal investigations. As Sheriff of Los Angeles County, I find it deeply troubling that an elected supervisor would use the authority of his office to bully the coroner and sow mistrust of law enforcement in the community. While these apparent goals may satisfy Supervisor Ridley Thomas’ narrow political aspirations, it does nothing to advance the public’s interest.
The Sheriff’s Department will not be providing any commentary on the Andres Guardado case until the investigation has been completed. To do so prior would establish a poor precedent that can threaten the integrity of all future criminal investigations, including deputy involved shootings. 832.7 PC does provide for public access to officer involved shooting investigations, however the law does not provide for public dissemination prior to the completion of the investigation.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva