Officer pleads guilty to murder in fatal shooting of 12-year-old

PHILADELPHIA, PA – A former Philadelphia police officer pled guilty to third-degree murder on Friday. These charges stemmed from his shooting and killing of a 12-year-old boy earlier this year. The former officer, Edsaul Mendoza, 28, admitted his role in the fatal March 1 incident involving young Thomas “TJ” Siderio.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office confirmed the guilty plea. District Attorney Larry Krasner announced it, adding, “Justice must be even-handed. Everyone must be accountable under the law.” Sentencing for Mendoza is scheduled for July 22, though possible sentencing outcomes have not been disclosed.

Initial charges against Mendoza, who no longer serves with the Philadelphia Police Department, included first-degree murder and third-degree murder. He also received charges for voluntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime. The charges date back to May 2022.

A grand jury document describes how the fatal sequence of events unfolded. Mendoza and three other plain-clothed, on-duty officers stopped Siderio and his 17-year-old friend as they were riding bicycles in an incident connected to a stolen gun case.

A shot was fired that shattered the passenger window of the unmarked police car. Both young boys separated and tried to flee, prompting Mendoza to chase Siderio. The prosecutor’s investigations revealed Mendoza fired three shots throughout the chase, but the final two shots were fired after Siderio had discarded his weapon.

According to the grand jury, Siderio was unarmed when he was fatally shot in the back from a distance of approximately 10 feet. The boy’s firearm was later recovered, and investigators believe he likely used it to shoot at the police car prior to dropping it.

Krasner described the chase as “tactically unsound,” labeling Siderio’s death a tragedy. He criticized Mendoza for failing to take cover and approach cautiously and claimed this behavior was inconsistent with someone believing they were pursuing an armed suspect.

Mendoza’s legal representation has yet to release a statement on the guilty plea.