Police officer charged with shooting and killing unarmed 12-year-old
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Former Philadelphia police officer Edsaul Mendoza was charged with murder earlier this month for shooting an unarmed 12-year-old boy in the back.
Three plain clothes officers were driving around in an unmarked police car on the evening of March 1, 2022. They witnessed 12-year-old Thomas “TJ” Siderio riding his bike with a friend, an unidentified 17-year-old who they recognized as “tangentially connected to a stolen firearm investigation involving a third person”. Upon initiating a stop and turning on the emergency lights for the undercover car, a gunshot went off and broke the back passenger-side window.
The boys ran and the cops chased. Officer Mendoza fired at Siderio twice, missing both times. Siderio discarded his gun, stopped running, and either fell or dove to the ground. “Mendoza then fired his third shot from less than ten feet away from the child, and fatally wounded him,” according to a grand jury presentment.
The subsequent investigation revealed that Mendoza was aware that Siderio was unarmed when he fired the fatal shot. Furthermore, the officers acted in contravention of Philadelphia Police Department Directives not to initiate a stop as plainclothes officers and engaged in a tactically unsound pursuit.
PO Mendoza does not take cover during his approach, which would have been the tactically correct decision if he believed Thomas Siderio remained armed. Instead, he chooses to follow the “exact opposite” tactical strategy that would be expected if he thought there was “any possibility” that Thomas Siderio remained armed…Instead of taking cover or approaching cautiously, PO Mendoza runs onto the sidewalk without slowing or reassessing, finds Thomas Siderio unarmed and not fleeing, and fires one shot into Thomas Siderio’s back from within ten feet.
As is so often the case, the officers gave conflicting reports of events and lied in an attempt to avoid responsibility.
Sgt. Butler, the supervisor for the CIU Officers, offered a similar explanation for the stop, stating that they were making the stop “[because they recognized one of the individuals as being involved in the investigation, meaning [the 17-year-old].”
In contrast, PO Camacho and PO Cucinelli, both of whom testified on the same day — March 18, 2022 — and after PO Sarpong and Sgt. Butler, for the first time stated that they intended to stop the boys for a traffic violation, i.e., riding their bicycles the wrong way on 18th Street, in addition to the firearms investigation…PO Camacho, after asserting that issuing a motor vehicle violation ticket was part of the reason for their stop, later acknowledged that he did not give anyone a ticket during this entire encounter and “we never — I don’t give tickets for the most part.”…
Although PO Mendoza told Sgt. Butler that he fired twice from the street near the location of the gun, this statement is not true. PO Mendoza’s actual third and fatal shot occurred much closer to Thomas Siderio, while PO Mendoza was standing on the sidewalk, mere feet away, with an unobstructed view of the no-longer-fleeing and unarmed boy.
The City of Chicago is facing a federal lawsuit after one of its officers shot an unarmed Black 13-year-old in the back, potentially paralyzing him for life.
The boy, identified in the lawsuit by the initials “A.G.”, has been hospitalized since he was shot May 18 after a car pursuit. A.G. was a passenger in the stolen car and fled on foot “as the car was driving”. Several Chicago police officers chased him on foot.
According to witness accounts, while A.G. was running he was told by one or more of the pursuing CPD officers to put his hands up. A.G. did as he was directed; he put his hands up with the intent of surrendering to the police.
At or about the same time, John Doe Officer, who was running behind A.G. with his gun unholstered, shot A.G. without cause or justification, causing A.G. to sustain catastrophic and permanent injuries. A.G. immediately collapsed in the lot of the Marathon gas station. CPD officers did not render immediate aide to A.G., but instead callously dragged him across the pavement and then turned their attention to an uninjured officer who crashed into a sign at the gas station while arriving on scene.
The filing says the boy did not have a weapon and did nothing to make the officer believe he was armed or a danger to anyone. It adds that the use of force “was not objectively reasonable” and “was neither necessary nor proportional.”
The shooting is part of a pattern of racially discriminatory practices by Chicago police that led the courts and the DOJ to impose a consent decree on the agency requiring reform and retraining. “The City of Chicago and its Police Department have been aware of all such findings but have failed to implement reasonable and necessary means to address and resolve the disproportionate use of force, including deadly force, against minorities that has persisted for years,” the lawsuit states.
The City of Chicago is under a Consent Decree due in large part to its longstanding pattern and practice of using excessive force, including deadly force, disproportionately against minorities. Tragically, the deep-seeded systemic problems that led to the entry of the Consent Decree – implicit bias and failures in training, supervision, and accountability – still exist today. A.G. is the latest victim of CPD’s systemic failures.
It is a story all too familiar: a Black or Brown male shot by a CPD officer. In A.G.’s case, the shooting occurred during a foot pursuit. Even though the City has known that foot pursuits are inherently dangerous and there have been numerous incidents where CPD officers chased and shot fleeing persons who posed no immediate threat, CPD inexplicably resisted implementing any foot pursuit policy for years. Finally, in June 2021, CPD implemented a “temporary” foot pursuit policy which has rightly been criticized by thought leaders, community members, and other stakeholders. CPD was required by the Consent Decree to implement a permanent foot pursuit policy by September 2021 but missed the deadline. Almost nine months later, there is still no policy.
The ACLU is calling for an investigation into the Las Cruces (New Mexico) Police Department after an officer shot and killed a 75-year-old grandma in the midst of a mental health crisis.
Amelia Baca’s daughter called 911 asking for “an officer or an ambulance” because the elderly woman was “getting really aggressive” and threatening to kill her. The daughter advised dispatch that Baca had dementia and was armed with a knife, “stabbing the floor.”
In bodycam video released earlier this month, the officer stands outside the apartment pointing his gun at Baca, who was armed with a knife in each hand. He can be heard telling her multiple times to drop the knives in english—Baca only spoke Spanish. Her daughter and granddaughter can be heard on the footage telling the officer that Baca was mentally ill and asking him to “take it easy” on her.
Within 38 seconds of arriving on scene, the police officer shot and killed Baca.
“We are respectfully demanding that the [Doña Ana County] District Attorney charge this police officer with murder,” [the family’s attorney, Sam Bregman] announced Thursday. “The Baca Family will also be filing suits in federal court and state court for the violation of her constitutional rights.”
“Instead of assessing the situation, as they are supposedly trained and ordered to do, this police officer shot this 75-year old grandma twice, execution style,” Bregman said. “This yelling was all done in English. Ms. Baca is a Spanish speaker and does not understand English.”