San Diego Police Department Officer Archie Buggs (right) and his convicted killer Jesus Cecena. Photos courtesy of the SDPD and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Gov. Gavin Newsom has reversed the state Parole Board’s decision to grant parole to Jesus Cecena, 59, who killed San Diego police officer Archie Buggs in 1978.

The action, announced Tuesday by San Diego County District Atty. Summer Stephan, reverses the Parole Board’s decision in June. 

Stephan had urged Newsom to stop the parole, writing in a letter that Cecena would jeopardize public safety because of the execution nature of how he killed the officer.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown reversed the Parole Board in 2014, 2016 and 2017, and Newsom did so in 2019.

Buggs, 30, was shot four times after he stopped a car driven by Cecena, a gang member in the Skyline neighborhood who was 17 years old at the time. 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.

The African-American officer died on the street, his hand still on his service revolver.

“This defendant killed an on-duty police officer in cold blood and in spite of his claims to the contrary, he once again lacks honest insight and remorse into this heinous crime,” Stephan said.

“We appreciate the Governor’s thoughtful analysis and ultimate decision to reverse parole and safeguard the public,” she added. “Officer Buggs was one of the first African-American police officers in San Diego and he was a hero to his family, his law enforcement colleagues and to the entire San Diego community. We will continue to fight for justice on his behalf.”

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.