Crime & Justice

Family of slain 14-year-old sues LA, LAPD officer

Jesse Romero's father, Jesus Romero Garcia (left), and his mother, Teresa Dominguez (center), stand next to the family's attorney Humberto Guizar, at Friday's news conference.
Jesse Romero's father, Jesus Romero Garcia (left), and his mother, Teresa Dominguez (center), stand next to the family's attorney Humberto Guizar, at Friday's news conference.
Jenny Lower/KPCC

The family of a 14-year-old boy shot and killed by Los Angeles police last year has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the officer who shot him.  

As LAPD officers responded to a report of gang-related graffiti in Boyle Heights last August, one of them, Eden Medina, shot and killed Jesse Romero.

"Our belief is that the use of deadly force here was unreasonable and excessive," the family’s attorney, Humberto Guizar, told a news conference Friday. He claimed the city is also liable because it allowed Medina to continue working after he shot and killed another suspect just two weeks earlier.

The LAPD has said that when its officers arrived on the scene last August, Romero was one of three taggers who ran away. Medina was among those who pursued him. 

There were conflicting reports about how Romero died. A loaded revolver reportedly belonging to Medina was recovered at the scene. The LAPD said a witness saw Romero shoot at officers. In a statement, the department said Medina also saw Romero in a crouch with his arm extended, leading the officer to believe Romero was going to open fire.

But another witness claimed she saw Romero throw his gun against a fence. She said the gun went off when it hit the ground.

Guizar said he has video evidence the teen threw away his gun.

"He never shot at any officer," he said. "That's a lie."

Medina's attorney was unavailable for comment Friday.

The L.A. City Attorney's office said it hasn't received the family’s complaint yet.

The L.A. County District Attorney is reviewing the shooting. The LAPD said it couldn’t provide an immediate response on the status of its investigation into Romero’s death.