- A whistleblower in the Los Angeles sheriff's department said a Compton deputy who shot a teenager in June was trying to join an internal "gang."
- The clique at the Compton station, which the whistleblower described as "violent," wears matching tattoos and call themselves the "Executioners."
- The man said in sworn testimony that he believed that a deputy's killing of 18-year-old Andres Guardado was his attempt to impress the clique so he could join.
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The Los Angeles deputy who shot and killed 18-year-old Andres Guardado was trying to impress and join the internal "gang" at the Compton station, a whistleblower said in testimony acquired the LA Times and Spectrum News.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Miguel Vega shot and killed Andres Guardado, who was working security outside a car shop, in June. His death prompted protests in the city.
Deputy Art Gonzalez, a whistleblower, has filed a complaint alleging that there is a violent clique operating inside the Compton station and Vega had been trying to impress and join the "Executioners" group at the time he killed Guardado, according to Spectrum News.
"I now call them a gang because that's what gangs do – they beat up other people," Gonzalez said in the testimony obtained by Spectrum News.
Gonzalez said that more than a dozen deputies have matching tattoos that indicate they are members of the Executioners.
The comments were made as a part of testimony made in an excessive force lawsuit against the deputies, Spectrum News said.
The lawsuit accuses deputies of "chasing ink," or trying to impress the Executioners to join their group.
Gonzalez has said that the clique hosts parties after on-duty shootings.
"Some people say it's to celebrate the deputy is alive," he said in the testimony. "Others say it's to celebrate that they're going to be 'inking' somebody."
Gonzalez is on leave from the department and fears for his live, Spectrum News reported.
The Executioners aren't the only gang that has been alleged to operate inside the Los Angeles Sheriff's office. The LA Times has reported extensively on a variety of internal cliques. Other groups include the Grim Reapers, Banditos and Jump Out Boys, according to the LA Times.
A law firm for Guardado's family told Spectrum News it is looking into allegations his killing was related to a prospective initiation into the Executioners.
"It is very disturbing — to say the least — that gangs are commonly known to exist within the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department," the statement from Panish Shea and Boyle LLP, said. "These reports go to the heart of our concerns that the Sheriff's Department promotes and harbors a culture of violence against the public."
Compton Mayor Aja Brown called for state and federal investigations into the station where deputies "terrorize the community" and cover their tracks, Spectrum reported.
The Sheriff's Department said the FBI is now involved in an investigation into the Executioners, according to the LA Times.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva, though, has implied that allegations against the group are likely exaggerated.
"When you say whistleblowers, know these are people that are suing and when they're suing…you have to make the allegations as big as possible," he told Spectrum News. "When you go to the actual hard facts and try to prove them, it's a whole different animal."
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