A man who died in a San Fernando Police Department officer-involved shooting on April 10 sustained five gunshot wounds of which three were fatal, according to a copy of the autopsy report by LA County coroner’s office that was obtained by the San Fernando Valley Sun/el Sol newspaper.
The LA County Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating the case which is standard protocol. In a statement the Sheriff’s Department released following the officer involved shooting, they said SFPD officers were responding to a “shots fired” call near the corner of Fourth and Harps streets and discovered Guillermo Amezcua sitting inside a vehicle matching the description given to the police.
“[Amezcua] was uncooperative, produced a firearm and fired at officers. Then an officer-involved shooting occurred,” the Sheriff’s Department said.
Amezcua, 48, was pronounced dead at the scene on the street where he lived. No officers were injured.
The police account is being questioned by family members who gathered last Sunday.
His son, Guillermo Amezcua Jr., told the San Fernando Valley Sun/el Sol that his father was shot numerous times and while neighbors have been reluctant to talk, they have said there was rapid gunfire.
Amezcua had six children. His oldest daughter, Evelyn Figueroa — said the family has retained a lawyer and a claim has been filed against the San Fernando Police Department and SFPD officers have been subpoenaed.
Last Sunday, Aug. 29, approximately 60 people mostly family members—including Amezcua,
Jr. and Figueroa — along with friends gathered in front of Amezcua’s home on the same street where he died to remember the man who would have turned 49-years-old on Aug. 27. “Oldies” were played, candles were lit, his photo and flowers were placed at the site of the shooting.
At the encouragement of a local resident, a small group of activists from an organization called People’s Struggle San Fernando Valley and a group calling itself the Oxnard Revolutionary Studies, located in Ventura County, joined the gathering with a bullhorn in hand, after participating in the Chicano Moratorium in East Los Angeles.
There were some tense moments during the remembrance when several SFPD officers arrived. The crowd shouted insults at the officers, calling them “Assassins,” “Pigs” and told them to “Get the (expletive) out.”
The officers said they were there to tell the drivers of lowrider vehicles that were blocking the street to move their cars.
The family said Amezcua was a fan of lowriders, and they were there as a tribute. SFPD Police Chief Anthony Vairo said they were aware of last Sunday’s event, and the officers went to the location after “receiving complaints by residents” about the vehicles blocking traffic.
“When the officers got there, they were met with hostility and foul language and they were only there to ask them to move the vehicles out of the roadway,” Chief Vairo said. “They complied, and we just stayed in the area to monitor the situation.”
The Autopsy Report
The autopsy report recently obtained by the San Fernando Valley Sun/el Sol, dated April 14, identifies Amezcua as weighing 229-pounds and measuring 5’6” in height. He had tattoos on his neck reading “Memo” and “Jennifer Marie” and a tattoo on his left shoulder reading “Guillermo Amezcua Jr.”
The examiner determined the cause of death to be “multiple gunshot wounds” and the manner of death as “homicide,” with the injury occurring as “shot during encounter with law enforcement.”
The report states Amezcua received “five total gunshot wounds” all at a range “indeterminate by exam.”
It said there were two superficial graze wounds on his shoulder, and a nonfatal “perforating injury to the “right 5th digit,” meaning the pinky finger on his right hand.
There are also “multiple superficial abrasions involving the face and torso, bilateral upper extremities, and right lower extremity,” as well as “multiple small superficial lacerations, face,” according to the report.
Gunshot wound #1, labeled “fatal,” entered “at the right posterior scalp, at the top of the scalp,” and did not exit the skull. The report said, “a gray and copper colored deformed projectile was recovered from the brain” and that the shot’s direction was from “back to front, downward, and slightly right to left.”
Gunshot wound #2 entered “at the right posterior shoulder” and there is no exit. According to the report, “a gray and copper colored deformed projectile was recovered from soft tissue at the right lateral shoulder” and the direction was “right to left, back to front.”
Gunshot wound #3, labeled “fatal,” entered the victim “at the left lateral chest” and the exit wound was “situated at the left top of the shoulder.” The direction of the wound, the report said is “upward, slightly left to right, and slightly front to back.”
Gunshot wound #4, labeled “fatal,” was “situated at the left lateral inferior torso” and a “gray and copper colored projectile was recovered from the left posterior neck soft tissue,” according to the report. It described the direction of the wound as “upward, left to right, and slightly front to back.”
Gunshot sound #5 entered “at the left chest epigastric region” with an exit wound at the “left chest.” There was also a reentry wound, the report said. The direction of the projectile was “upward, slightly right to left.”
Of the two noted non fatal wounds separately labeled as 1&2, the report further stated that graze wound #1 was at the “left mid posterior torso” and graze wound #2 was at the “left lower torso.”
The report indicates there were “multiple superficial abrasions…present at the face, torso, bilateral upper extremities, and right lower extremity” consistent with “dicing injuries,” meaning they were caused by shattered glass.
At the time of his death, the report said Amezcua had a blood alcohol level of 0.252 (8%).
The report went on to state the death was reported to the coroner’s office at 12:41 a.m. on April 11 and upon the coroner’s arrival, the “decedent was seen lying on the ground next to the driver’s side. There was broken glass around him; multiple police placards (evidence markers) were scattered within the scene.”
It said that the “rear windshield, the driver’s side windows, and the front passenger side window” were smashed, and there were “holes seen throughout most of the van.”
The report also detailed that a “cell phone and ammunition were seen in the cup holder on the center console. What appeared to be a weapon (gun) was seen between the front passenger seat and front passenger door. The weapon looked like it was upside down with the bottom of the magazine pointing upwards at the roof.”
Both Figueroa and Amezcua Jr. say their father didn’t own a gun.
“As far as we know, he didn’t. We’ve subpoenaed the police for their proof,” Figueroa said.
San Fernando Police Department Chief Tony Vairo said he could not comment on the autopsy report because the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office are investigating the case.
“I’m not privy to the investigation. I have not seen the complete report,” Vairo said.
Amezcua Jr. alleges the SFPD officers didn’t give Amezcua the opportunity to comply with orders to put his arms in the air. He believes his father probably didn’t follow police instructions because he likely didn’t hear them due to being “drunk, passed out.”
He said his father liked to drink a lot but would have complied with the officers’ orders if he was capable.
Amezcua, Jr. maintains that witnesses have also said the SFPD officers fired as many as 60 bullets at his father while he was still in his car.
Figueroa said SFPD officers went into their father’s home after the shooting.
“We don’t know what they were looking for. It seems like there were some things missing, but we don’t know,” she said.
Both siblings say they ultimately want justice for their father.
“We want for the DA (District Attorney) to cooperate and get all the information on what happened and get justice for my dad,” Figueroa said.
“If any regular person kills somebody in cold blood like they killed my dad and then they just ride around like nothing happened it’s not right. They tore our family apart,” Amezcua Jr. said.
“They need to put the police who did this behind bars like anyone else.”