An ex-Philadelphia Police detective has been charged with first-degree murder after fatally shooting 12-year-old Thomas “TJ” Siderio in South Philadelphia earlier this year. Siderio was armed with a handgun and fired at police before fleeing. He was unarmed when he was shot after tossing the gun, however, prompting far-left District Attorney Larry Krasner to file charges.
According to Krasner, former officer Edsaul Mendoza is facing multiple charges including first-degree murder, third-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter in connection with the fatal shooting.
The incident took place on March 1 when four plainclothes officers were on patrol in South Philadelphia. According to investigators, the officers spotted two juveniles on bikes and noticed that one of them appeared to be armed with a handgun.
After officers turned on their emergency lights and got out of their car to confront him, Siderio opened fire with a stolen 9mm pistol that was equipped with a laser sight. One of the bullets was later found lodged in the headrest of the passenger seat of the police vehicle.
Two of the officers returned fire, hitting Siderio in the chest, authorities say. Siderio later died after being rushed to Presbyterian Hospital.
On March 9, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw suspended officer Mendoza for 30 days with intent to dismiss. “I have made the decision to utilize Commissioner’s Direct Action to suspend Officer #1 with the intent to dismiss the officer at the end of 30 days due to violations of our use of force directive,” Outlaw said.
Krasner says a grand jury was then convened to hear the facts of the case and see evidence, including a video that has not been released to the press. The far-left DA referred to the decision to pursue Siderio as a “tactically unsound foot chase” and claimed the officers did not direct their fire responsibly.
The DA confirmed that TJ Siderio was unarmed when he was shot after tossing the weapon. It was later recovered around 40 feet from where Siderio was shot.
“Forty feet is a long way. It is certain that Thomas Siderio at the time he was shot had stopped running and that he was possibly surrendering,” Krasner said. “It is certain that Thomas Siderio at the time he was shot was essentially face down on the sidewalk. That he was in a position that approximates sort of a push-up turning back towards where the officer was pursuing him. Perhaps turning to look at the officer who was pursuing him when he was shot in the back.”
Krasner says Mendoza’s approach was inconsistent with a belief that Siderio was armed. “When Mendoza fired the third shot he was within half a car length of Thomas Siderio and thus would’ve had the opportunity to see Thomas Siderio clearly at the time he fired,” Krasner announced.
The DA — who launched his career by suing the police — ultimately concluded that there is ample evidence suggesting that Mendoza knew TJ Siderio was unarmed when he was shot.
The City of Philadelphia is on pace for more than 500 homicides in 2022.