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Former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Violate Skateboarder’s Civil Rights

During a verbal argument between Vega and a man identified in court records as J.A., the deputy challenged the skateboarder to a fight. Later, Vega grabbed J.A. and threw him in the back of the patrol car before weaving a web of lies.

12:25 PM PDT on July 21, 2023

    Scott Rodgerson/Unsplash

    One of the former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies involved in the Andres Guardado killing has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to violate the rights of a skateboarder (in a case unrelated to Guardado), according to the Justice Department.

    Christopher Blair Hernandez, 37, an ex-sheriff’s deputy formerly assigned to LASD’s Compton Station, agreed to plead guilty to one felony charge of conspiracy, according to a plea agreement filed today in federal court.

    According to Hernandez's plea agreement on April 13, 2020, Hernandez and his partner, former LASD Deputy Miguel Vega, were on patrol in Compton near Wilson Park. While patrolling the area, the deputies spotted "two young Black males" outside of a skate park. Hernandez believed one of the men was on probation.

    When Hernandez and Vega approached the young men, a group of about 10 to 15 people "began yelling at Hernandez and Vega to leave the Black males alone," according to court documents.

    During a verbal argument between Vega and a man identified in court records, Vega challenged J.A. to a fight. Later, Vega grabbed J.A. and threw him in the back of the patrol car.

    "During the incident, although Hernandez and Vega had ample time to do so, J.A. was not handcuffed, his seat belt was not secured, he never was told he was under arrest, nor was he informed of his right at any time," prosecutors said in a press release.

    In his plea agreement, Hernandez admits that he knew that the deputies did not have any lawful reasons to detain the victim.

    With J.A. still in the back seat, Vega began chasing "a group of young males on bicycles" in the patrol car while Hernandez pursued the group on foot. Vega drove the SUV down an alley and crashed into the wall and another vehicle, "causing J.A. to hit his face and head and sustain a cut above his right eye that later required stitches," according to court documents.

    After the collision, Vega told J.A. to get out of the vehicle and leave, and then lied about what happened, framing him as the suspect that he was pursuing before he drove his patrol SUV into a wall and another vehicle.

    "It was only after Vega learned that J.A. had been independently detained on a neighboring street by another LASD deputy as the purported gun suspect that Vega informed other deputies and his supervising sergeant that J.A. had been in the SUV during the crash," prosecutors said.

    The deputies subsequently authored two incident reports containing "false, misleading, and ambiguous information" in order "to justify and legitimize, and ultimately cover up, their unlawful conduct," Hernandez admitted.

    Two months later, Vega and Hernandez were involved in the fatal shooting of Andres Guardado, an 18-year-old who ran away from the deputies after they approached him at an auto body shop in Gardena. An autopsy report found that Guardado was shot five times in the back by Vega after fleeing down an alleyway. Vega's attorneys claim that Guardado reached for a firearm.

    Earlier this year, Los Angeles Country District Attorney George Gascon declined to charge Vega for Guardado's killing.

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