Edsaul Mendoza is a former Philadelphia Police officer charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of 12-year-old Thomas “TJ” Siderio. Philadelphia District Attorney Ed Krasner said Mendoza shot Siderio in the back while he was unarmed and on the ground. The shooting occurred on March 1, 2022, in South Philadelphia and Mendoza was arrested on May 1, 2022. He is being held without bond and additionally faces third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime, the DA’s office said.
Krasner said at a press conference announcing the charges against Mendoza that the 26-year-old now-former officer knew Siderio was not armed when he shot him after he ran away from them. According to police, Siderio had shot into the rear window of an unmarked patrol car that Mendoza and three other officers were riding in. One officer was struck by glass and the other three, including Mendoza, were not injured. Siderio fled after the shooting and dropped his gun on the street, Krasner said.
“The gun was sitting on the street, below the curb line, nearly 40 feet away,” Krasner said at the press conference. “Thus, when Officer Mendoza fired the third and fatal shot, he knew the 12-year-old, 5’11” tall, 111-pound Thomas Siderio no longer had a gun and had no ability to harm him. But he fired a shot through his back, nonetheless, that killed him.” Authorities have not released video footage of the shooting, but Krasner said at the press conference it was “very, very disturbing and very difficult to watch.”
Krasner said in a statement that Philadelphia’s 31st Investigating Grand Jury issued a presentment recommending Mendoza be charged. The 20-page presentment, which can be read here, was unsealed on May 2. Krasner said in a statement, “The investigation into this terrible tragedy remains ongoing. As in all cases, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office intends to prosecute this matter thoroughly and even-handedly. Our office has no further comment at this time.”
Here’s what you need to know about Edsaul Mendoza:
1. Thomas Siderio ‘Had Stopped Running’ & ‘Was Possibly Surrendering’ & Was ‘Essentially Face Down on the Sidewalk’ When He Was Shot by Then-Officer Edsaul Mendoza, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner Says
At the May 2 press conference, Krasner said that on the night of the shooting, “Thomas Siderio had likely fired a Taurus 9mm into the unmarked police vehicle where Officer Mendoza and others were driving as it was pulling up to a 17-year-old juvenile,” who is identified only by the initials N.K. in court documents. “When the child fired the gun that immediately caused three officers to take cover and police officer Mendoza began what began what can be fairly called a tactically unsound foot chase of the 12-year-old,” Krasner added.
Krasner said one of the other officers, Kwaku Sarpong, took cover and fired once, “at no target in particular.” Mendoza “fired three shots, once at the beginning of the block, near 18th and Barber streets where the foot chase began, once in the middle of the 1700 Barber Street block and once at the end of the block while standing on the sidewalk and relatively close to Thomas Siderio. At the time of the last two shots, Thomas Siderio was unharmed.”
According to Krasner, Siderio had tossed the gun about 40 feet away from where he was chased and shot. “Those 40 feet constitute a few parked cars and a few empty parking spaces,” Krasner said. “40 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. It is certain that Thomas Siderio, at the time he was shot, was essentially facedown on the sidewalk. That he was in a position that approximate to sort of a pushup, 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 said that Mendoza’s second shot didn’t hit Siderio but at about the same time, Siderio either fell to the ground or dove to the ground and Mendoza, “slowed down and changed direction in a way that shows that he knew Thomas Siderio had stopped. … Mendoza’s approach to Siderio was completely inconsistent with Mendoza believing Siderio was armed.”
Krasner also told another officer after the shooting that the boy had thrown the gun and pointed to the area. And the other officer went and found the gun, Krasner said. He said that means Mendoza knew that Siderio didn’t have the gun when he fired the third shot.
2. Philadelphia Police Chief Danielle Outlaw Fired Mendoza After Finding He Violated Department Use of Force Directives, She Said
Philadelphia Police Chief Danielle Outlaw announced on March 8 that Mendoza had been suspended pending an investigation with the intent to dismiss him from the police force. Officials said on May 2 that Mendoza had been fired by the department.
Outlaw said she dismissed Mendoza for violating the department’s use of force directives, according to CBS Philly. Outlaw did not provide specifics of what part of the policy was violated during the incident.
The department and Outlaw declined to comment after Mendoza’s arrest because of the pending criminal case and civil litigation. It was not immediately clear if the other three officers involved in the incident could also face discipline from the department.
3. Mendoza, Who Had Been Working With the Department’s Plainclothes South Task Force & Krasner Said the Situation Might Have Been Different if the Officers Were in a Marked Patrol Car
Krasner said the investigation into the incident is ongoing. He said as a result of that and the open case, his office is not yet able to show the video footage that helped lead to the charges. He said if they get clearance from a judge at some point, they will show the video to the public.
Krasner added, “There are reasons why police officers wear uniforms in certain situations and they don’t in other situations. There are reasons to have marked cars in certain situations and not to have them in other situations.” He said:
What we see here, as I said before, is among other things a real tragedy. Because it would appear that this tinted, unmarked car containing police who were not in uniform who are either visible simply as wearing a street shirt or street clothes with vests that have no designation of police on the front, this is the kind of encounter that could cause someone on the street that the people who are pulling up are not police at all. To believe the people that are pulling up, in a climate that is obviously rife with gun violence, are pulling up to do them harm and are not law enforcement at all.
The district attorney’s office added that Philadelphia Police Department directives say officers in plainclothes and unmarked vehicles should not be making traffic stops. According to court records, two of the officers said they were stopping the juveniles because of their involvement in a stolen firearm investigation, while other two said they were making a traffic violation stop related to riding a bicycle the wrong way.
4. Mendoza Is Originally From Elmont, New York, & Had Been an Officer for 5 Years
Edsaul Mendoza is originally from Elmont, New York, in Nassau County in Long Island, according to public records. He has been living in Philadelphia since 2018, public records viewed by Heavy show. Few details about Mendoza’s life and career are known.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, city payroll records show that Mendoza had worked for the police department for five years. The three other officers involved in the incident had also only been working for the department for less than six years, the newspaper reported.
The Philadelphia Police Department has not said what role he worked in before he began working in the plainclothes South Task Force. Police have also not released any personnel files or said if he has been disciplined or the subject of complaints or disciplinary proceedings during his career as an officer.
5. Mendoza Surrendered After Learning He Would Be Charged, While an Attorney Representing Siderio’s Mother Says ‘We Learned That TJ Siderio Was Executed’
Mendoza surrendered on May 1 after learning he was being charged, according to the district attorney’s office. He is being held without jail in Philadelphia, records show. According to The Associated Press, “A spokesperson for the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 said the union plans to provide an attorney for the officer. Court records showed the public defender’s office represented Mendoza at his bail hearing Monday. The defender’s association declined to comment on the case.”
Siderio’s father, also named Thomas Siderio, has filed a lawsuit against the city and Mendoza. The boy’s great-grandmother told CBS Philly after Mendoza’s arrest, “I’m happy. That’s all I can say right now. I’m so heartbroken, I can’t sleep. None of us can sleep. It’s horrible.” Conor Corcoran, who is representing the boy’s father, told The New York Times he doesn’t believe there is “conclusive evidence” that Siderio fired a gun during the incident. “Until all that information comes to light, I still think it’s very premature and reckless to speculate that my boy even fired a gun to begin with, but we’ll see,” he told The Times. He added, “for sure, the Philadelphia Police Department is unfortunately going to have to pay for the death of this child.”
Andrew Duffy, an attorney representing Siderio’s mother, Desirae Frame, told the Philadelphia Inquirer the boy’s mother is “devastated” by what Krasner revealed at the press conference. Duffy added, “This was not just an unjustified shooting. This was murder. We learned that TJ Siderio was executed.”
John McNesby, the president of the Philadelphia police union, said in a statement to NBC Philadelphia, “The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police will represent this officer against these very serious charges. The accused officer, like every other citizen, is entitled to due process and we are confident that our judicial system will protect this officer’s constitutional right to a fair trial.”