On August 9, Mexican-American teenager Jesse Romero became the 12th person fatally shot by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers in 2016. Now, his mother, Teresa Dominguez, is fighting back.
Dominguez filed a claim against the city yesterday (October 6), that alleges that the LAPD used excessive force when they killed her 14-year-old son. Officers from the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Gang Enforcement Detail were chasing Romero for allegedly writing gang graffiti on a wall in the city’s predominantly Latinx Boyle Heights neighborhood. Officers report that they heard a gunshot and that feared Romero was going to shoot them. While they say that a witness saw Romero fire the gun in the direction of the officers, another witness told the Los Angles Times that she saw the boy throw the gun toward a fence, which caused it to go off. “He didn’t shoot,” she said.
Dominguez’s attorney, Humberto Guizar, says that video of the scene after the shooting showed that the weapon was on the other side of the fence—not where Romero could have been holding it in preparation to shoot. “If he was aiming a gun, please show us the body camera [video],” Guizar said yesterday at a press conference yesterday outside LAPD headquarters. “We have evidence now on its face that shows, very clearly, that he did not have a gun in his hand.”
During the press conference, the family also reiterated its request that the city release body camera footage of the encounter and hold the officers—whose names have not been shared with the press—accountable for their role in killing Romero.
Per Los Angeles County’s Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, filing a claim for damages is the first step in suing a government agency. “I want justice,” Dominguez, told reporters. “He didn’t deserve to die the way that they killed him.”