Ex-cop guilty of shooting 12-year-old boy

PHILADELPHIA, PA – A former Philadelphia police officer, Edsaul Mendoza, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime, having reached a plea agreement with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. This plea came in relation to the shooting death of 12-year-old Thomas “TJ” Siderio in March 2022.

Originally, Mendoza faced charges of first-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter attached to Siderio’s shooting. The incident occurred when the boy allegedly fired a shot from a gun at an unmarked police car before he tried to flee from the scene.

According to prosecutors, Mendoza chased Siderio, leading to the boy discarding his gun and submitting to the ground. It’s then that prosecutors say Mendoza, at a relatively close range, shot the unarmed Siderio in the back.

Siderio’s family was consulted over the proposed plea deal, although not all of them agreed with the third-degree murder charge. Siderio’s aunt Joanne Payne expressed her disbelief, saying, “It’s heartbreaking. It’s earth-shattering, it’s devastating…TJ was on the ground, face down, unarmed.”

In response to Mendoza’s guilty plea, the Citizens Police Oversight Commission released a statement hoping the resolution would represent a closure for Siderio’s family and community. Mendoza, sentenced in July, could face imprisonment ranging from 7½ to 40 years.