In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Jacob Blake, the recent shooting of Dijon Kizzee in South Los Angeles, as well as the racialized violence endured at the hands of law enforcement towards communities of color, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas moves to increase law enforcement transparency and accountability in the investigation of the death of Andres Guardado—a move that will bolster an investigation into the recent shooting of Dijon Kizzee, and rebut a disturbing trend by LASD in thwarting independent oversight. The motion, authored by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas seeks to ensure that the Medical Examiner-Coroner and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) have the tools necessary to bring about greater accountability in the handling of investigations into Deputy-involved shootings.
“For far too long we have accepted the status quo—we haven’t sufficiently challenged law enforcement’s incessant demands that investigations remain shrouded in secrecy,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “This Board must not sit by and allow the County’s law enforcement department to entrench itself in traditional patterns of behavior that profoundly harm not only vulnerable communities but the entire justice system.”
In the motion, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas urges the Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner to conduct an inquest into the circumstances of the death of Mr. Andres Guardado or provide an explanation about why an inquiry is unnecessary. The motion also calls for a report back from the OIG on the feasibility of ensuring that any County task force charged with investigating police shootings, be overseen by a civilian public official to increase transparency; and on the feasibility of litigation against LASD for failing to allow oversight of police investigations.
“The County’s Sheriff’s Department’s refusal to comply with state law and permit monitoring of their investigations of themselves deeply undermines law enforcement credibility,” said Max Huntsman, Inspector General. “I strongly support efforts by County and State government to strengthen civilian oversight and overcome this unhealthy resistance to accountability.”
“The Sheriff’s Office under this administration has illegally avoided all attempts to move transparently in the investigation of Andres Guardado. Now at a time when the entire nation is calling for us to reimagine public safety and accountability, and with the shooting of Dijon Kizzee just last night, I applaud the leadership of Supervisor Ridley-Thomas to hold this Department accountable and further calls for justice,” said UCLA Black Policy Project Executive Director, Isaac Bryant.
Consistent with State and County law, civilian monitoring with LASD is permitted. However, LASD has strongly and repeatedly resisted the efforts of public officials to conduct proper oversight, not only as it relates to Mr. Guardado’s killing but also as to multiple other violations by LASD personnel.
In 2018, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 1421, the Right to Know Act. As a result of the bill, Penal Code section 832.7 was amended to require transparency in police shootings. Under the new law, reports must be made public unless a public agency can justify that an interest in secrecy is stronger than the public’s right to know.
“In this time when reform should bring more transparency rather than less, LASD insists that it should be trusted to investigate itself. Their lack of accountability will not be tolerated,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “Oversight of this investigation is not just critical for ensuring accountability—it is legally mandated.”