A 2014 law change is allowing a convicted cop killer to be granted parole simply because the criminal was a ‘youthful offender’ when he executed Officer Archie Buggs Nov. 4, 1978.
Buggs, 30, was shot four times after he stopped a car driven by Jesus Cecena, a gang member in California’s Skyline neighborhood. Cecena fired five times at Buggs, then paused, walked toward the fallen officer and fired a final bullet into his head at point-blank range. Buggs died on the street, his hand still on his service revolver.
.@SanDiegoPD Officer Archie Buggs made ultimate sacrifice protecting our community. Parole Board made terrible decision to let his killer go
— Shelley Zimmerman (@ChiefZimmerman) February 24, 2017
The decision marks the third time since 2014 the parole board has cleared the way for Cecena to be released. Twice before, in 2014 and 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown subsequently overturned that decision.
Now Brown will have to decide again if it is time for Cecena, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, should get out of prison.
The San Diego Union Tribune reports the parole decision will be appealed.
“We are going to continue to fight this, to raise our appeals to the governor,” said Chief Deputy Summer Stephan, who attended the hearing to speak on behalf of Buggs’ family.
Incredibly disappointed by Parole Boards decision to free Cop Killer Jesus Cesena. We'll petition @JerryBrownGov to overturn this decision
— San Diego Police (@SanDiegoPD) February 24, 2017
In 1979 the murderer was tried and sentenced as an adult. However, a few years later, in 1982, an appellate court modified the sentence because Cecena was under 18 when he committed the crime, and made him eligible for parole.
The parole board said it took into consideration several factors before granting its decision after a 40-minute deliberation at the Valley State Prison at Chowchilla.
He was a juvenile at the time and commissioners considered his lack of maturity when he shot Buggs. The board also took note of his time in prison.
“He has shown growth,” Parole Board Commissioner Michele Minor announced.
Not all board members see his personal ‘growth.”
Commissioner Tim O’Hara flatly told Cecena that he thinks he lied Thursday about key elements of Bugg’s killing when he testified, The San Diego Union Tribune reports.
Cecena, who executed Buggs with a .38 gun, said he killed Buggs in a kind of panic; afraid his father would become enraged when he found out he had been stopped by police while riding with another gang member.
O’Hara says Cecena’s claims do not make sense.
“It’s nonsense to me that you were worried about your Dad, so you shot a cop six times,” he said.
“We don’t think you are being completely truthful with us,” O’Hara continued.
In the end, however, commissioners said that based on who Cecena is now and the work he has done in prison, they believe he is no longer a threat to public safety. That reason, coupled with others about his life inside, was enough to give him parole.
Now it’s time for Governor Brown to weigh in on the board’s decision
The San Diego Union Tribune reports in the past, Brown has said he was not convinced Cecena had yet to “confront the true nature of his actions.”
In one of his previous denials, Brown said he believed Cecena was “whitewashing” the extent of his actions in murdering Buggs.
The fight to keep Cecena behind bars will continue — mostly because of the crime’s heinous nature.
“This cold-blooded execution of an on-duty police officer devastated the officer’s family, his department and our community,” said San Diego County Chief Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan, who attended the parole hearing with Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs.
“This crime was callous and inexplicably senseless. It demonstrated a total disregard for human life and disdain for those in a position of authority,” Stephan said.
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