A former police officer with the Philadelphia Police Department was charged with murder on Sunday, two months after he fatally shot a minor.
Ex-officer Edsaul Mendoza faces counts of first-degree and third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and possessing an instrument of crime. Mendoza had shot Thomas “TJ” Siderio, 12, after Siderio had dropped his weapon and was on the ground, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said during a Monday press conference.
"Officer Mendoza's approach also required Mendoza to pass through an opening between two parked cars which would have placed him into a suspect's potential line of fire if Mendoza had believed there was a weapon," Krasner said. "Nevertheless, Mendoza went right through there."
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Mendoza was half of a car's length away from Siderio when he shot the suspect and told officers where Siderio's weapon was after the shooting, indicating Mendoza knew the suspect was unarmed when he fatally shot him, Krasner said.
The officer was fired by Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw a week after the shooting, saying he’d violated department policy during the incident. Outlaw did not specify how Mendoza had violated departmental guidelines, only saying that "the use-of-force policy was violated,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
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Siderio was shot on March 1 after he fired a shot into the rear window of an unmarked car with Mendoza and three other plainclothes officers inside.