Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw announced Tuesday that she will fire the police officer who fatally shot a 12-year-old boy in the back.
Around 7:24 p.m. on March 1, four plainclothes officers in an unmarked car drove towards 12-year-old Thomas “TJ” Siderio and a 17-year-old, who were on bicycles. Officers Edsaul Mendoza, Kwaku Sarpong, Robert Cucinelli and Alexander Camacho were reportedly patrolling the area after a 17-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man had been seen brandishing a weapon on social media.
According to police, an officer activated the car’s flashing lights before a gunshot shattered their rear window. But according to the 17-year-old’s mother, Kim Tomasetti, her son told her that the officers did not turn on the lights or identify themselves before any shots were fired. He also told his mother that they were afraid the men in the car would attack them and had no idea that they were police officers.
On Tuesday, Commissioner Outlaw stated that TJ fired the shot at the unmarked car before two officers exited the vehicle and returned fire. While Sarpong maintained cover, Mendoza fatally shot TJ in the back.
Outlaw said police recovered a 9mm semiautomatic handgun from the scene, but she did not disclose whether TJ had tossed the gun away before Mendoza shot him. On Tuesday, Outlaw stated that the officer will be suspended for 30 days with intent to dismiss because Mendoza violated department policy by shooting a fleeing suspect in the back.
That same day, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney issued the following statement on Twitter: “As we continue to investigate the police-involved shooting of a 12-year-old boy, @PPDCommish is taking direct action to suspend the shooting officer, with the intent to dismiss after 30 days due to violations of PPD’s Use of Force directive. I fully support this decision.”
District Attorney Larry Krasner has not filed any criminal charges against Mendoza. The 17-year-old who accompanied TJ also does not face any criminal charges.