In 1978, San Diego police Officer Archie Buggs was 30 years old when he was shot and killed by a 17-year-old reputed gang member in the Skyline neighborhood.
Jesus Cecena, who is now in his mid-50s, was convicted of murdering Buggs and sentenced on August 22, 1979 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
However, a parole board hearing is set for Thursday at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, California near Fresno, where Cecena is incarcerated.
Because Cecena was a juvenile at the time of the killing, a change in the law in 2014 made him eligible to receive Youthful Offender Consideration, according to the D.A.s office. In April 2014, his release was approved by the parole board but Governor Jerry Brown later overturned the panel’s recommendation in September. Cecena’s parole continues to be opposed by San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, and the San Diego Police Officers Association.
Cecena has an unstable social history that has continued during his incarceration; he received more than ten violation reports for misconduct while in prison, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.
San Diego County Chief Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan said Tuesday she will accompany Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs to Thursday’s parole board hearing to argue against Cecena’s release.
“This cold-blooded execution of an on-duty police officer devastated the officer’s family, his department and our community,” Stephan said. “This crime was callous and inexplicably senseless. It demonstrated a total disregard for human life and disdain for those in a position of authority.”
According to the D.A.’s office, Buggs was killed after he stopped a car driven by Cecena. The teenager fired five times at Buggs, then paused, walked toward the fallen officer and fired a final bullet into his head at point blank range, the D.A.’s office maintains.
Buggs died on the street, his hand still on his service revolver, according to the D.A.’s office.
“To this day, Cecena has never accepted full responsibility for executing Officer Buggs and glosses over the full horror of his actions,” Sachs said. “Cecena’s words of purported acceptance ring hollow, and do not demonstrate that he has fully embraced the execution nature of this killing. Unless and until he faces that, he will continue to be unpredictable and dangerous.”
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