Ex-Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Murder in Shooting of 12-Year-Old Boy

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A former Philadelphia police officer pleaded guilty on Friday to third-degree murder in the shooting of a fleeing 12-year-old boy in 2022, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

The former officer, Edsaul Mendoza, 28, also pleaded guilty to possession of an instrument of crime in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County before Judge Diana Anhalt, court records show.

Mr. Mendoza, who is scheduled to be sentenced on July 22, could face up to 40 years in prison.

Mr. Mendoza fatally shot the boy, Thomas Siderio, during a foot chase on the night of March 1, 2022, after Thomas shot at an unmarked police vehicle that Mr. Mendoza and three other Philadelphia police officers were in, according to prosecutors.

Mr. Mendoza had initially been charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime, according to prosecutors.

A jury trial had been scheduled for May 13, court records show.

Charles Gibbs, a lawyer for Mr. Mendoza, declined to comment on Friday.

A lawyer for the Siderio family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Justice must be evenhanded,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement on Friday. “Everyone must be accountable under the law.”

Sgt. Eric Gripp of the Philadelphia Police Department said in a statement on Friday that the fatal shooting was a “tragedy” that was “compounded by the fact that a life was taken by someone who swore an oath to uphold the law and protect the community.”

Mr. Mendoza and three other Philadelphia police officers were surveilling a neighborhood in the south side of the city in an unmarked police vehicle when they came across Thomas and a 17-year-old boy, the authorities said at the time.

The officers were not searching for Thomas and the other boy that day, the authorities previously have said.

The unmarked vehicle passed Thomas, and shortly later returned. That’s when Thomas fired at the vehicle, the authorities said.

Three of the officers took cover after the shot was fired. Mr. Mendoza ran after Thomas in what the authorities described as a “tactically unsound foot chase.”

Mr. Mendoza fired at Thomas three times during the chase — twice while Thomas was armed and once after he had discarded the weapon, according to the district attorney’s office. The third shot pierced Thomas in the back, and he was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Larry Krasner, the Philadelphia district attorney, said at a news conference after the shooting that when Mr. Mendoza “fired the third and fatal shot, he knew the 12-year-old, five-foot-tall, 111-pound Thomas Siderio no longer had a gun and no ability to harm him.”

“But he fired a shot through his back nonetheless that killed him,” Mr. Krasner said.

Mr. Mendoza, who was fired from the Police Department after the shooting, also faces a federal civil suit that was filed by the Siderio family in January against him and the city of Philadelphia.

In the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the family claims that Thomas was murdered “execution style” and that the fatal shooting was “an abysmal systemic policy failure” by the Police Department and the city.

Lawyers representing the family in the civil case did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. A press representative for the Philadelphia mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.



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