There’s no question about it. The death of a 14-year-old, for any reason, is a true tragedy on so many levels. But the early indications in this case are that the 14-year-old fired a handgun at LAPD officers and our officers must always put their safety and the safety of the public we serve first.
Nothing can be done to bring back Jesse Romero to his family, but there is much to be learned from this tragic event. The sad reality is that it makes no difference the age, race or gender of who is firing a hand gun. The bullets kill just the same. No officer wants to use his or her firearm to take a life. However, LAPD officers this week found themselves in an impossible situation: patrolling known gang territory and being fired upon. They had no choice but protect themselves and the public from harm.
The incident forces us to ask ourselves, why would a 14-year-old feel the need to carry a gun? Why would he run when approached by police officers? Why would he shoot at police officers, as at least one witness alleges he did? What was happening in this young man’s life that led him to make a series of horrible decisions that ultimately led to a horrible outcome for all involved?
As is the case with any use of force, an exhaustive investigation will be conducted, and we encourage everyone to remain patient while the investigation is being completed. Rumors, innuendo and assumptions will not lead to truth or justice. These rumors just fuel the fires that cloud objective facts in these cases.
The men and women of the LAPD who risk their lives to protect the people of Los Angeles are all impacted by this case. We all fear that one day, we will be on the receiving end of bullets from a suspect’s gun. We all dread any day where we are forced to use force to protect ourselves, our partners or the public.
Make no mistake, like many officers involved in similar situations, every day will be an intense struggle to recover from the trauma they experienced this week. A part of them will never, ever be the same.
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