A former Philadelphia police officer is facing murder charges after shooting 12-year-old Thomas Siderio in the back and killing him in early March.
The ex-officer, Edsaul Mendoza, was fired shortly after the incident in which authorities initially indicated police sustained fire and even had the window of their car shatter while pursuing a gun investigation. Police have said 12-year-old Siderio was armed, though his family has challenged that account, and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw soon determined Mendoza had violated use-of-force policies.
Outlaw maintained that Siderio was suspected of firing at the vehicle, but authorities also indicated that Mendoza fired and struck the child in the upper right back with a bullet that exited through his chest as he fled.
Court filings showed Mendoza faced charges of first- and third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and possession of an instrument of crime. The charges were previously reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Mendoza was denied bail early Monday morning. It was not clear if he had an attorney.
At a press conference late Monday morning, District Attorney Larry Krasner reaffirmed that Siderio fired a gun, but that Mendoza later began a “tactically unsound foot chase” of the child. Mendoza fired three times, he said, adding that Siderio was unarmed by the time the last two shots were fired. The child had also stopped running, he said.
“Thomas Siderio, at the time he was shot, was essentially face-down on the sidewalk.... He was in a position that approximates sort of a push-up, turning back toward where the officer was pursuing him,” he said.
The third shot was fired at very close range—specifically half a car-length—according to the district attorney.
“Mendoza’s approach to Siderio was completely inconsistent with Mendoza believing Siderio was armed,” Krasner said, adding that Mendoza told a fellow officer right after the incident that he had seen the child toss the gun.
The DA went on to say Mendoza had been untruthful with investigators about where he was when he fired the last two shots.