The two-year anniversary of the killing of 14-year-old Jesse Romero in an officer involved shooting will be marked Thursday by family and activists at a vigil and protest.
Organizers of the vigil say they will gather at the site of the shooting to protest the fact that the officer who fired the shots that reached the Méndez High School student has not been prosecuted and charged in the killing. Romero’s family claim in a lawsuit that officer Eden Medina knew that the teen was unarmed when he shot him.
On the afternoon of August 9, 2016, Romero was being chased by officers after allegedly being caught vandalizing a building with gang graffiti. The officers pursued Romero to a spot on Breed Street near César Chávez Avenue where he was shot.
Police say they heard a gunshot before they fired at Romero. A gun was recovered at the scene, several feet away, on the other side of a fence. Witnesses said they saw Romero throw the gun over the fence before he was shot.
Los Angeles County Prosecutors who investigated the shooting concluded that the gun hit the top of the fence, fell on the sidewalk and “discharged upon impact with the ground.” But prosecutors said Medina believed the boy posed a deadly threat and used “reasonable force” to defend himself and other officers and refused to charge him.
A lawyer representing Romero’s family in the lawsuit said a video from a body cam worn by Medina and released by LAPD earlier this year contradicts the official version of the incident. The attorney said the video shows that Medina had enough time to realize that Romero had thrown the gun and no longer posed a threat.
Attorney Humberto Guízar said the video “clearly shows” that Officer Eden Medina knew Romero was unarmed and did not fear for his life when he shot him.
Last year, the Los Angeles Police Commission ruled that the Romero shooting was justified. Medina, who had killed a man in a separate officer-involved-shooting just 12 days before the Romero shooting, was reinstated to the force but transferred away from Hollenbeck division.
Also on Thursday, activists from entro Community Service Organization (Centro CSO), who are organizing the vigili, will hold a national call-in day against L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey; urging her reconsider filing charges against Medina and other LAPD officers and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies who have killed residents in Eastside communities in the last few years.
Thursday’s vigil and protest will be held from 7 to 10 pm at the corner of Chávez and Breed.