Los Angeles, CA – An attorney for the family of an armed teen who was fatally shot by a Los Angeles police officer in 2016 released bodycam footage of the incident on Tuesday (video below).
Los Angeles Police Officer Eden Medina was cleared of wrongdoing in March, after prosecutors determined that 14-year-old Jesse Romero posed a deadly threat, and that Officer Medina used “reasonable force” to defend himself and others in the area, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Investigators also concluded that Romero, who was armed with a revolver, had fired his weapon as the officers pursued him.
“[The] most likely explanation of the evidence was that the revolver was fired, then dropped,” the prosecutors said in a memo, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Romero’s family’s attorney, Humberto Guizar, has filed a civil suit against Officer Medina and the city of Los Angeles, alleging that the officer violated Romero’s civil rights and used excessive force.
“The kid did have a gun. That is true,” Guizar said during a press conference on Tuesday, according to the Daily Mail. “But he didn't deserve to die. He discarded the gun.”
The incident occurred on Aug. 9, 2016, after officers received a report of vandalism in progress behind an apartment complex on North Chicago Street, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Romero was among a group of teens who were painting graffiti as the officers approached.
The group scattered when they saw the cops, and Romero clutched his waistband as he fled, police said.
The officers repeatedly ordered the teen to stop as they chased him down a storefront-lined street, the video showed.
Romero continued to run away, and eventually rounded a corner near a payphone.
As Officer Media pursued him around the corner, a gunshot rang out, the video showed.
“Shots fired, officer needs help,” one of the officers said, as Officer Medina proceeded around the corner with his weapon drawn.
Another gunshot rang out and the officers yelled at Romero to get onto the ground.
A weapon could be seen lying on the pavement on the opposite side of a fence as the officers closed in on the teen gunman, who was lying on his back, the video showed.
The bodycam angle did not capture the moment of the actual shooting.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck later explained that Romero was crouched on the sidewalk with his right arm extended towards the officers when Officer Medina fired two rounds at him, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“The Los Angeles Police Department understands that any time that an officer uses deadly force that ends in a fatality it is a painful tragedy for the family and friends of the suspect, the community and the officers involved,” the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement following the release of the bodycam footage, according to the Daily Mail.
“This is why the LAPD, its oversight bodies, and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office scrutinizes these incidents as closely as possible to ensure that the use of deadly force was appropriate to defend the life of the officer or members of the public,” the statement read.
The family's attorney claimed that Romero discarded his weapon prior to being shot by Officer Medina, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He noted that several witnesses reported that they saw Romero throw the revolver as he was running, and he claims that the weapon “discharged upon impact with the ground.”
"The video shows that when the officer fired at the kid, he fired at him when he wasn't a threat," Guizar argued. "He didn't have a gun in his hand, and he killed him."
Guizar did not explain why the teen was crouched with his arm extended toward police.
You can watch bodycam footage of the officers’ encounter with Romero in the video below: