Former Philly Cop Pleads Guilty to Third-Degree Murder: Our Statement

Crowd marches at protest with sign that reads "who do you serve?"

A small measure of justice was served today when former Philadelphia police officer, Edsaul Mendoza, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder for killing Thomas “TJ” Siderio, an unarmed 12-year-old boy in South Philly in 2022.

TJ was riding bikes with two friends around 7:30 PM in March 2022, when four plain clothes cops in an unmarked car approached them. The boys then jumped off their bikes and ran in different directions. Mendoza chased after TJ, where video footage shows Mendoza clearly saw that TJ had thrown a gun away and was unarmed. TJ dropped to the ground and was lying facedown when Mendoza approached him and shot him in the back, killing him. 

We know that justice will not come from the system that took TJ’s life. Nevertheless, as long as police and prisons wreak havoc on our communities, cutting the lives of Black and Brown men short, the law should be applied equally to those who are sworn to uphold it. We’re grateful the District Attorney’s office charged Mendoza with first-degree murder and that Mendoza will be the first police officer convicted of on-duty murder in recent years.

As Philadelphia City Council considered the Mayor’s proposed budget, we hope they will heed the calls of community members demanding they invest more resources in schools, libraries, rec centers, and other public goods that lift up our young people and make us all safer.

Thomas Siderio should be alive. He should be in school, playing with friends, getting the opportunity to make mistakes and then learning from those mistakes. Instead, a Philadelphia police officer shot him in the back and killed him. The conviction of Edsaul Mendoza will not give TJ’s family what they deserve: a healthy and thriving 14-year-old boy. May we honor his family and legacy by fighting for a city that protects our children, valuing them enough to invest in them the way our city has historically invested in the system that killed him.