District Attorney Larry Krasner announced Monday that a former Philadelphia police officer who fatally shot a 12-year-old boy in the back in March has been charged with first-degree murder. The youngster was unarmed and on the ground when the officer fired, according to Krasner.
On the evening of March 1, Edsaul Mendoza, 26, was one of four plainclothes cops inside an unmarked police car when they pulled up to 12-year-old Thomas “TJ” Siderio and a 17-year-old identified as “NK,” according to Krasner. TJ “likely” fired at the vehicle after that, according to Krasner, and a bullet entered the back glass.
Three policemen took cover, but Mendoza led the youngster on a “tactically unsound” foot chase and fired three shots at him, according to Krasner.
TJ dropped the gun away during the chase, according to Krasner. Despite this, Mendoza stated he fired twice at the youngster after the gun was thrown away. When the 12-year-old was lying face down on the ground, Mendoza fired the deadly shot from a half-car length away, Krasner said.
Mendoza then directed another officer to the place where the youngster had tossed the gun, which was discovered 40 feet away, according to the DA.
“As a result, when Officer Mendoza fired the third and deadly shot, he knew the 12-year-old Thomas Siderio, who stood 5 feet tall and weighed 111 pounds, no longer possessed a gun or the potential to harm him,” Krasner said.
Krasner announced the allegations based on a grand jury’s presentment, or official charging document, based on unreleased surveillance video of the shooting. Officials will not disclose the footage until they receive approval from a court, according to Krasner.
According to Krasner, Mendoza was charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and possession of a criminal instrument with intent to use it criminally in the presentment.
He was arrested early Monday morning and is being held without bail, according to Krasner. According to court documents, a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for May 16.
Mendoza will be represented in the case by the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police.
In a statement, Philadelphia FOP Lodge #5 President John McNesby said, “The accused officer, like every other citizen, is entitled to due process, and we are certain that our judicial system will preserve this officer’s fundamental right to a fair trial.”