(CNN) — 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, District Attorney Larry Krasner announced Monday.
Edsaul Mendoza, 26, was one of four plainclothes officers inside an unmarked police car on the evening of March 1 when they pulled up to 12-year-old Thomas “TJ” Siderio and a 17-year-old identified as “NK,” Krasner said. A bullet entered the police car’s rear window, “likely” fired by Siderio, Krasner said. Three officers took cover, but Mendoza then engaged in a “tactically unsound” foot chase of the boy and shot at him three times, Krasner said.
During the chase, Siderio tossed aside the gun, Krasner said. Even so, Mendoza fired twice at the boy after the gun was discarded, including a fatal shot when the 12-year-old was lying face down on the ground, Krasner said. Immediately afterward, Mendoza directed another officer to the spot where the boy had thrown the gun, which was found 40 feet away, the DA said.
“Thus when Officer Mendoza fired the third and fatal shot, he knew the 12-year-old, 5-foot tall, 111-pound Thomas Siderio no longer had a gun and no ability to harm him,” Krasner said.
In announcing the charges, Krasner cited a presentment, or formal charging document, by a grand jury that was based on unreleased video of the shooting. Mendoza was charged in the presentment with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime with intent to use it criminally, said Krasner.
He was taken into custody Monday morning and is being held without bail, Krasner said. A preliminary hearing is set for May 16, according to court records.
The charges come two months after Police Commissioner Danielle M. Outlaw moved to fire Mendoza because the shooting violated the department’s use of force directive, she said.
“Based off of the evidence that I reviewed, it was clear that the use of force policy was violated,” Outlaw said at the time. “I will tell you that all use of force has to be proportionate to the resistance they’re trying to overcome. I will also tell you that our policy clearly states that excessive force will not be tolerated.”
A 9 mm semi-automatic handgun equipped with a laser was recovered from the scene, according to a March police statement. The gun was reported stolen and was loaded with one round in the chamber and five rounds in the magazine. The 17-year-old boy who was at the scene was not hurt, authorities said. He was questioned and released pending further investigation.
One of the officers was injured in the eye by glass when the car was shot, the police statement said. The bullet went through the passenger side rear window and through the headrest of the front passenger’s seat where another officer sat, the statement said.
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