A few dozen protesters gathered in front of the Hollenbeck Police Station Saturday afternoon in what they claimed was a demand for justice for the family of Jesse Romero, the 14-year-old boy killed by Los Angeles Police Tuesday under circumstances that are being investigated.
“We’re demanding that the police who killed Jesse be arrested and tried for murder,” said community activist Carlos Montes, one of the organizers of the protest.
Romero, a student at Méndez High School, was shot Tuesday afternoon after a brief chase down César Chávez Avenue and onto Breed Street. Officers were reportedly responding to a call of two teens involved in gang-related vandalism and detained one of the boys while Romero gave chase. Police say the officers heard a gunshot before they fired at Romero, who died at the scene. A gun was recovered at the scene, police say.
But the Los Angeles Times reported this week that a witness saw Romero throw his gun against the fence, where it went off.
“There’s a new revelation now that the police are lying,” said Montes, citing the witness.
During a rally, several speakers spoke out against what was termed as “overpolicing” of poor, mostly black or brown neighborhoods and the resulting violence against its residents. Romero was the 12th person killed in an officer involved shooting this year in Los Angeles, and the fifth casualty of such an incident in Boyle Heights.
“We demand justice for the other families who have been victims of police killings,” said Montes. “Jesse Romero is another in a line of young men, mostly Mexican American that have been killed by the police. This has to stop now.”
An LAPD officer manning the desk at the Hollenbeck station said that there was no officer in charge at the division able to speak about the rally. He said that a sergeant from another division assigned to the rally would be able to comment, but that officer did not appear at the entrance side of the station during the first 90 minutes of the protest.
Several family members of young men shot and killed by LAPD officers and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies participated in the protest and some spoke before the gathered crowd. Also present at the rally was Romero’s mother, Teresa Domínguez, who declined to be interviewed, saying through a family that she was overwhelmed and tired by the week’s events.
Saturday’s protest followed a march on Wednesday evening that ended with a vigil at the Breed Street site where Romero died.
This developing story will be updated.