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March 08, 2022

Police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Thomas Siderio in South Philly to be fired

Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said the plainclothes officer violated the department's use of force policy

Investigations Shootings
Police Shooting Thomas Siderio Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Thomas Siderio in South Philly last week will be fired, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Tuesday.

The police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Thomas Siderio in South Philly last week will be dismissed, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Tuesday.

The officer violated the department's use of force directives and will be let go following a 30-day suspension set to begin Friday, Outlaw said during a press conference. 

"It's tragic, the circumstances that even led our young people out there in the first place," Outlaw said, according to 6ABC. "And it's tragic that we had one of our own, again, go against everything who we say we are."

The police department has not released the names of the officers involved, citing threats, but the Inquirer identified Edsaul Mendoza as the officer who shot Siderio. Three other officers reportedly involved – Kwaku Sarpong, Robert Cucinelli and Alexander Camacho – have been placed on administrative leave.

The shooting happened March 1 shortly before 7:30 p.m. The four plainclothes officers were conducting surveillance near the Barry Playground in South Philly as part of a task force responding to social media posts involving a gun, police said last week. 

The officers attempted to stop Siderio and a 17-year-old friend because the older teen was wanted for questioning in a separate firearm investigation, police said. After the officers turned on their emergency lights, they heard gunfire and a bullet came through the rear passenger window. It didn't hit anyone, but an officer sitting in the back seat suffered injuries to his face and eyes from the broken glass. 

Investigators believe Siderio fired this shot, police said.

Two officers exited the vehicle and discharged their firearms, police said. One of them took cover while the other continued chasing Siderio on foot. He fired two more shots and struck Siderio once in the upper back.

Siderio was rushed to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 7:29 p.m.

It's unclear whether Siderio was armed at the moment Mendoza shot him. Last week, police said a stolen 9mm handgun, equipped with a laser sight, was recovered at the scene. 

On Tuesday, Outlaw said she could not comment on where the gun had been recovered or whether Siderio had it in his possession when he was shot. Connor Corcoran, a lawyer for Siderio's family, told 6ABC that the child was unarmed.

There is no body camera footage of the incident since plainclothes officers aren't equipped with the devices.

The mother of the 17-year-old told NBC10 that officers did not turn on their lights, saying her son and Siderio did not know they were being approached. After being stopped, the teen was released pending further investigation.

The District Attorney's Office also is investigating the incident, as it does with all deadly incidents involving police officers. 

"When it is appropriate for us to do so, we will disclose findings of our currently active investigation and decision on whether or not to pursue any criminal charges," District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement.

Note: Portions of this story were changed and edited after it was originally published.