Philadelphia, PA – The Philadelphia police officer who fatally shot a 12-year-old boy after he opened fire on officers on March 1 will be fired after a 30-day suspension, the police commissioner announced Tuesday.
Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said the evidence showed the unnamed officer who fired the bullet that killed 12-year-old Thomas Siderio violated the agency’s use of force policy, according to the Philadelphia Patch.
“It’s tragic, the circumstances that even led our young people out there in the first place,” the commissioner said during a press conference on Tuesday, according to WPVI. “And it’s tragic that we had one of our own, again, go against everything who we say we are.”
She said the officer will begin a 30-day suspension on March 11, and that he will subsequently be fired.
“It’s just a sickening situation all around,” Commissioner Outlaw continued. “I’ve lost sleep over this, and it’s because of the tragedy on all sides. There are no winners here.”
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said his office will conduct an “unbiased and thorough investigation” into the fatal shooting, the Philadelphia Patch reported.
Krasner said his Special Investigations Unit handles all incidents of civilian deaths involving law enforcement officers.
“The death of a child is always a tragedy, and in this instance, a factually complex and deeply troubling one based on preliminary investigative information,” he noted, according to the Philadelphia Patch.
Commissioner Outlaw also confirmed that Siderio’s family has filed a lawsuit over the armed teen’s death.
The identities of the officers involved in the incident have not been released due to threats being made against them, according to police.
The confrontation occurred near Barbara Street and 18th Street as four South Task Force officers were conducting surveillance in an unmarked police vehicle at approximately 7:20 p.m. on March 1, WPVI reported.
That’s when they spotted two teens riding by on bicycles.
The PPD said one of the boys was wanted for questioning in connection with a firearm violation investigation, according to the Philadelphia Patch.
The officers activated the lights on their unmarked vehicle and tried to stop them, at which point Siderio fired a stolen 9mm handgun equipped with a laser at the patrol unit, according to police.
The bullet traveled through the car’s back window and into a headrest, WPVI reported.
“This kid fires a shot right into the rear passenger’s side window,” PPD Sergeant Eric Gripp told reporters. “We’re really lucky we don’t have an officer seriously injured and killed right now because the bullet went right through that window and embedded itself into the driver’s side headrest.”
One of the officers was hit in the eye and face by shattered glass.
Although the officers were in plainclothes, they were wearing vests, had badges hanging from their necks, and identified themselves as police, Sgt. Gripp noted.
Their vehicle was also “all lit up,” he said.
Two of the four officers bailed out of the vehicle and returned fire before the suspects took off running down the 1800-block of Barbara Street, WPVI reported.
Investigators said the officer who will soon be terminated from the PPD fired two more rounds at the juvenile gunman, hitting him once in his upper right back, according to the Philadelphia Patch.
He dropped his firearm and collapsed to the ground, WPVI reported.
Police later said the stolen gun had one round in the chamber and five more in the magazine.
The officers scooped him up and rushed him to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, according to Sgt. Gripp.
The 17-year-old male the boy was with was uninjured and was taken into custody, WPVI reported.
He was later released pending further investigation, the Philadelphia Patch reported.
Conor Corcoran, the attorney representing Siderio’s family, denied allegations the 12-year-old was carrying a gun when the shooting occurred, WPVI reported.
Corcoran said police simply “murdered” the pre-teen “at point-blank range.”
“This unseemly speculation about his guilt – from Philly PD, in particular – is just the latest example of their own interest in covering their tracks, rather than atoning for this unforgivable act of malice and murder,” the lawyer declared.