Los Angeles

Family Lawyer Says 21-Year-Old Killed by Deputies Was Shot 13 Times From Behind

"This is an execution. This is a murder. And these officers, these deputies, should be charged with murder," the family's lawyer said.

After a 21-year-old in East Los Angeles was shot to death 13 times by deputies in 2018, deputies say they were justified as he pulled a weapon, but his mother said in a news conference Thursday that the autopsy tells a different story.

"We have prepared ourselves for this day. But how you can really prepare to know that your son was assassinated?" Lisa Vargas said.

Anthony Vargas was shot 13 times on the back of his body Aug. 12, 2018, including two shots to the back of the head, nine shots to his back, and a shot to his forearm from behind, his family's lawyer said. 

"This is the first time that we're actually getting some kind of information. We did not know where he was shot," Vargas said.

Attorney Humberto Guizar is representing the Vargas family in a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, alleging the shooting was what he calls a gang style attack on Vargas.

"Thirteen shots ... How is that physically possible? How is that possible in our country today?" Guizar said. "This is an execution. This is a murder. And these officers, these deputies, should be charged with murder."

The shooting happened in the early morning hours of August 12, 2018, in East LA.

The Sheriff's Department was investigating a robbery at a 7-Eleven and later confronted Vargas nearby.

Two deputies said they opened fire after Vargas started fighting them and pulled out a gun from his waistband.

Vargas was killed, and investigators recovered a gun at the scene.

His family said Vargas was a good person, walking home from a friend's house and was not known to carry guns.

"To claim that he had a gun — we believe that it was planted by this deputy," Guizar said.

Guizar has filed a lawsuit and has tried to obtain video evidence from the scene.

He said the deputies' attorneys filed a motion to block him.

Vargas' mother said she wants justice.

"They didn't just kill Anthony. Look out these doors. They killed all of us," she said.

The sheriff's department has not yet responded to NBCLA regarding the lawsuit or to answer whether the deputies are still on the job.

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