NATIONAL NEWS

Ex-Philadelphia police officer pleads guilty in shooting death of 12-year-old boy

Apr 19, 2024, 11:42 AM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A fired Philadelphia police officer pleaded guilty Friday to murder in the shooting of a fleeing 12-year-old boy, who prosecutors have said was on the ground and unarmed when the officer fired the fatal shot.

Edsaul Mendoza also pleaded guilty to possession of an instrument of crime as part of a plea deal with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. A sentencing date has not been disclosed.

The Associated Press left a voicemail message for Mendoza’s lawyer seeking comment Friday.

Mendoza had been charged with first- and third-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter in the shooting of Thomas “T.J.” Siderio in March 2022, with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office saying at the time that video contradicted the officer’s version of events. Police have said the boy had first fired a shot at an unmarked police car, injuring one of four plainclothes officers inside.

Mendoza, a five-year veteran of the force, was fired a week after the shooting by then-Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, who said his conduct violated department policy.

Siderio threw a gun down about 40 feet (12 meters) before he was shot and then dropped to the ground, either tripping or obeying a command to get down, according to authorities.

The four officers had been in an unmarked car, looking for a teenager they wanted to interview related to a firearm investigation, police have said. They saw Siderio and an unnamed 17-year-old, and maneuvered the car around the block and next to them to initiate a stop.

Prosecutors said Monday that almost at the same time the officers turned their red and blue lights on, a shot came through the back passenger window and ricocheted around the car. One officer was treated for injuries to his eye and face caused by broken glass.

Mendoza and another officer on the passenger side got out and fired one shot each, according to police. Mendoza then chased Siderio down the block, firing twice and striking the boy once in the back from what prosecutors say was “relatively close range.”

Siderio’s family sued Mendoza and the city in January, saying his death was the result of “an abysmal systemic policy failure” within the police department.

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Ex-Philadelphia police officer pleads guilty in shooting death of 12-year-old boy