The fired Philadelphia police officer accused of shooting a fleeing 12-year-old in March has been charged with murder, the District Attorney's Office announced Monday.
Prosecutors said Thomas "TJ" Siderio was on the ground and unarmed when police officer Edsaul Mendoza fired a fatal shot through his back in South Philadelphia on March 1.
Mendoza faces murder in the first and third degree, voluntary manslaughter and other charges, according to a grand jury presentment unsealed Monday. Court records show Mendoza surrendered Sunday and was denied bail in a rare move for former law enforcement officers facing charges.
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Mendoza was a member of the PPD's South Task Force. He was fired a few weeks after the shooting.
"The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police will represent this officer against these very serious charges," said FOP Lodge #5 union president John McNesby. "The accused officer, like every other citizen, is entitled to due process and we are confident that our judicial system will protect this officer’s constitutional right to a fair trial."
New details of the shooting were revealed in the unsealed grand jury documents Monday, including that Siderio had thrown a gun down about 40 feet before he was shot and that the youth had dropped to the ground, either tripping or obeying a command to get down. Krasner said the officer crossed between two parked cars and from about a half-car length away, fired the fatal shot.
Krasner said much of the evidence was based on a video that has not been publicly released, but viewed by the grand jury.
Police said Siderio used a stolen gun to fire the shot into the back passenger window of the unmarked police car. The plainclothes officers inside were looking for a teenager they wanted to interview related to a firearm investigation. The officers saw two youths, Siderio and an unnamed 17-year-old, and drove the car around the block and next to them to initiate a stop.
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However, Krasner said Monday that according to the grand jury documents, the officers may have stopped the boys for a traffic violation -- going the wrong way down a street on a bicycle.
Krasner said the unmarked car's emergency lights came on in almost the same moment Siderio fired the shot at their car. Prosecutors said it was unclear from video whether the boy knew it was a police vehicle when he fired, but the investigation is ongoing.
An officer was treated for injuries to his eye and face caused by broken glass.
Two officers then got out and opened fire, initially missing the boy, police said. Officer Mendoza, however, gave chase down the city block and fired two more rounds, one of which struck Siderio in the right side of his back and exited through the left side of his chest, Krasner said.
“It is certain that [Siderio] had stopped running and he was possibly surrendering ... and he was essentially facedown on the sidewalk," Krasner said, saying the boy was in a pushup position looking back toward the officer.
Police had previously said Siderio was holding a gun as he ran away. But prosecutors are saying there are several indications Mendoza knew Siderio had dropped the gun and was down on the ground before shooting him.
"Police officer Mendoza's approach to Siderio was completely inconsistent with Mendoza believing Siderio was armed," Krasner said Monday.
Mendoza allegedly told his partner immediately after the shooting that Siderio had tossed the gun during the foot chase, telling him where the gun was located, Krasner said.
Krasner also said Mendoza ran up to Siderio with no indication he was in fear of being harmed. And, Krasner added, Mendoza gave false statements that contradicted the video about when he shot Siderio.