Philly Police Fire—but Do Not Name—Cop Who Killed 12-Year-Old Boy

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Philadelphia Police/handout
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A Philadelphia police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Thomas Siderio as he was running away during a chaotic incident last week will be fired. But the cop’s identity will be kept under wraps—at least for now.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw on Tuesday said the officer will be suspended with the intent of termination in connection with the March 1 incident, in which cops have said Siderio was armed. The officer will be terminated in 30 days for violating the department’s use of force directive, the commissioner explained, though Outlaw would not specify how, exactly, the officer in question did so.

Meanwhile, the family of the slain child directly challenged cops’ account of his death.

“TJ Siderio was not in possession of a gun” at the time he was killed, Conor Corcoran, an attorney representing the Siderio family, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday.

“Firing that officer is the least this Police Department could do, particularly where, as here, young TJ did not have any gunpowder residue on his hands, according to the funeral director,” the attorney added.

While authorities have not named the officers who were on hand at the time of the shooting, the Philadelphia Inquirer—citing police records—previously identified them as Edsaul Mendoza, Kwaku Sarpong, Robert Cucinelli and Alexander Camacho. The same four officers are being pursued for legal action by the Siderio family: So far, an attorney for Siderio’s father has filed a writ of summons, notifying the four officers that they face a potential lawsuit.

The Fraternal Order of Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and attempts to reach the four officers individually were not immediately successful on Tuesday.

For her part, Outlaw declined to name the officer who fired the fatal shot on Tuesday, citing their personal safety and the ongoing investigation.

“It was clear that the use-of-force policy was violated,” Outlaw said, noting that she was “certain” the officer being terminated was the one who fatally shot Siderio. “It’s tragic that we had one of our own go against everything that we say we are.”

Seventh Grader Who Was Allegedly Armed When Shot Down by Philly Cops ‘Never Had a Chance’

Authorities said the incident occurred at around 7:20 p.m., when four plainclothes officers saw two people—Siderio and a 17-year-old—standing on the corner of 18th and Barbara Streets. When the cops turned on the emergency lights, police claim they heard gunfire that shattered their back window. Outlaw said Tuesday that preliminary evidence has led police to believe 12-year-old Siderio fired a shot into the car, breaking glass that in turn injured one of the officers.

Two of the officers got out of the car and started firing at Siderio, who police claim was holding a semi-auto handgun equipped with a laser. Siderio was beginning to run away when an officer fired his weapon at least twice, striking Siderio once in the upper right back with a bullet that exited through his chest, police have said.

Siderio was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:29 p.m. A spokesperson for the school district of Philadelphia previously told The Daily Beast Siderio was in seventh grade at George W. Sharswood Elementary School.

The District Attorney’s Office said in a Tuesday statement that it is probing Sideiro’s death for possible criminal charges, but noted it is a “factually complex and deeply troubling case.

“Philadelphians are owed a comprehensive and transparent accounting of all activity surrounding the circumstances of young Thomas Siderio’s death and an unbiased and thorough investigation,” District Attorney Larry Krasner added in the statement. “When it is appropriate for us to do so, we will disclose findings of our currently active investigation and decision on whether or not to pursue any criminal charges.”

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Protesters in Philadelphia angry about the police killing last year of a Black man in Minnesota.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images</div>

Protesters in Philadelphia angry about the police killing last year of a Black man in Minnesota.

Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images

Kim Tomasetti, the mother of the 17-year-old who was with Siderio and briefly detained during the March 1 incident, told the Inquirer that her son’s account was vastly different than the one outlined by police. According to the teenager, Tomasetti said, the officers did not turn on their flashing lights or identify themselves before the shots were fired.

Outlaw said Tuesday that evidence does show at least one light was turned on before a shot was fired into the unmarked car—though she declined to provide further details.

Additionally, police have said that they recovered a 9mm semiautomatic handgun at the scene that they claim Siderio was carrying at the time. Police sources previously told the Inquirer that investigators were looking into whether the pre-teen tossed the gun before police fired the round that killed him.

Outlaw declined to comment on the specifics of the gun on Tuesday.

For Corcoran, however, “this unseemly speculation about TJ’s possession of a weapon—from Philly PD, in particular—is just the latest example of their own interest in covering their tracks.”

“They have much, much further to go,” he added.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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