L.A. Weekly has obtained a video showing footage of a fatal Aug. 9 shooting in which LAPD officers fired at a teen in Boyle Heights. The boy, 14-year-old Jesse Romero, was shot and killed after a brief foot chase.
At about 5:30 p.m., gang officers assigned to the LAPD’s Hollenbeck division, which patrols Boyle Heights, received a radio report of vandalism occurring in the area of North Chicago Street and East Cesar Chavez Avenue. The call described two suspects between 14 and 16 years old.
When the police arrived, officers saw Romero and two other suspects tagging gang-type graffiti behind an apartment building, police said. Romero bolted from the scene, “while grabbing his front waistband,” according to a police statement. The officers pursued him east on Cesar Chavez, then south onto North Breed Street, where the shooting occurred.
Witness accounts of the shooting have been contradictory: One saw Romero fire a handgun in the direction of the pursuing officers, while another saw him toss a handgun toward a fence on South Breed Street and said that the gunfire began after he disarmed. Jorge Gonzalez, an attorney for Romero's mother, Theresa Dominguez, called for the LAPD to release video from the officers' body cameras to settle the apparent discrepancy.
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One of the officers who chased Romero onto Breed saw the boy "crouched on the sidewalk with his right arm extended toward the officer," according to a police statement. "Fearing Romero was going to shoot at them," the statement continues, "one officer fired two shots at Romero, striking him twice."
The video footage obtained by L.A. Weekly shows the moments immediately after the shooting. Jed Ochmanek, who rents the second-floor studio overlooking South Breed, filmed the video, in which a handgun can be seen on the opposite side of the fence, several feet behind where Romero's body fell.
Romero was the fifth person since February to be shot and killed by police in Boyle Heights — which sees