Former Philadelphia police officer pleads guilty over fatally shooting 12-year-old in the back

A former Philadelphia police officer pleaded guilty Friday over fatally shooting a 12-year-old boy in the back in March 2022, according to court documents.

Edsaul Mendoza, 28, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime, according to a criminal docket seen by CNN. Third-degree murder can carry a sentence of up to 40 years.

Mendoza was initially charged with first-degree murder but the charge has since been dismissed.

CNN has reached out to Mendoza’s attorney, Charles Gibbs, for comment.

Mendoza was one of four plainclothes officers on patrol who pulled up to 12-year-old Thomas “TJ” Siderio and a 17-year-old identified as “NK,” Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said.

TJ then “likely” fired at the vehicle and a bullet entered the rear window, Krasner told CNN previously. While three of the officers took cover, Mendoza engaged in a “tactically unsound” foot chase of the boy and shot at him three times, even though he had thrown away the gun, Krasner said.

“Justice must be evenhanded. Everyone must be accountable under the law,” Krasner told CNN Saturday.

When Mendoza was charged in 2022, Krasner said the boy was unarmed and on the ground when the officer fired.

Sergeant Eric Gripp from the Philadelphia Police Department called the incident a “tragedy” in a statement Friday.

“It is compounded by the fact that a life was taken by someone who swore an oath to uphold the law and protect the community,” Gripp said. “The Philadelphia Police Department’s duty is to serve this city with honor and integrity, and the actions of an individual officer don’t represent the professionalism and commitment of the thousands of dedicated Philadelphia Police officers who put on this uniform each and every day.”

The former police officer is expected to be sentenced in late July.

Mendoza was fired by Danielle M. Outlaw, the city’s police commissioner, because the shooting violated the department’s use of force directive, the commissioner previously said.

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