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Philadelphia Police Officer Who Fatally Shot 12-Year-Old Thomas Siderio To Be Fired, Police Commissioner Says

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia police announced Tuesday the officer who shot and killed a 12-year-old boy last week will be suspended with intent to dismiss. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw calls the incident a tragedy on all sides with no winners.

"I rarely lose sleep over work stuff. I've lost sleep over this," Outlaw said.

Outlaw spoke candidly about her decision to suspend with the intent to dismiss an officer who she says fatally shot 12-year-old Thomas Siderio last week.

"This does not reflect who we are," Outlaw said.

Police initially said four plainclothes officers were in an unmarked police vehicle and spotted Siderio with a gun that was later found to be stolen.

Outlaw confirmed Tuesday the vehicle's police lights were activated when moments later, she says, the 12-year-old fired at the officers.

"By the grace of God, our officers were not shot and killed," Outlaw said.

Outlaw says as Siderio ran, an officer fired his gun, striking Siderio in the back, killing him and violating the Philadelphia Police Department's use of force directive.

She didn't reveal which section was violated but part of the directive states: "Police officers shall not use deadly force against another person unless they have an objectively reasonable belief that they must protect themselves or another person from death or serious bodily injury."

"I've made the decision to utilize commissioner's direct action to suspend Officer No. 1 with the intent to dismiss the officer," Outlaw said. "In a sense, it wasn't difficult at all. But it's just a sickening and saddening situation all around."

Police still are not officially revealing the officers' names after they received threats.

The Fraternal Order of Police declined to comment on the developments.

Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted that he fully supports Outlaw's decision.

"Obviously, this is certainly a high-profile incident," former Philadelphia Police Lt. Steve Nolan said.

Nolan has investigated nearly 800 police-involved shooting incidents over 20 years. He says behind the scenes there are two complex investigations going on -- administrative and criminal.

He says Outlaw made a direct action to bypass the administrative investigation process.

"I would presume she has looked at everything. I mean interviews that have taken place, any radio communications, any video that they have. She would be privy to everything. And with having that at her disposal she made this choice," Nolan said.

On Monday, the four police officers involved in the shooting were faced with a lawsuit from the boy's family. The three other officers are on administrative leave.

District Attorney Larry Krasner says the incident is being investigated by the police department as well as the DA Office's Special Investigations Unit.

"The death of a child is always a tragedy, and in this instance, a factually complex and deeply troubling one based on preliminary investigative information," Krasner said in a statement. "As prosecutors, we have a duty to seek justice by following the facts and law, wherever they lead us. Philadelphians are owed a comprehensive and transparent accounting of all activity surrounding the circumstances of young Thomas Siderio's death and an unbiased and thorough investigation. When it is appropriate for us to do so, we will disclose findings of our currently active investigation and decision on whether or not to pursue any criminal charges."

The Police Advisory Commission released a statement about Outlaw's decision to fire the officer who shot and killed Siderio:

"Yesterday, the Philadelphia Police Department announced they will suspend with the intent to dismiss, the police officer who shot 12-year-old Thomas Siderio on March 1, 2022. While the death of a child under any circumstances is tragic, this shooting has saddened and frustrated many in the community, and the search for answers continues. While many questions remain about the incident, and many details have not yet been released, the Police Advisory Commission supports PPD's decision to take decisive action after a careful evaluation of existing evidence.

Transparency and accountability are of utmost importance whenever a civilian dies at the hands of a police officer. When information is slow to be released to the public, it can lead to speculation and supposition.  Accountability and justice can only be achieved when all the facts are clearly established and transparently related. However, thorough investigations take time. Any release of information must be done in a way that ensures any future disciplinary actions or possible criminal cases are not jeopardized. Transparency must result in justice and not at the cost of it."

The PAC is closely monitoring the investigation and understands that it can be difficult to trust a process that is unseen. Commissioner Outlaw's decision yesterday signals that this investigation is progressing thoughtfully and efficiently. The PAC is hopeful that justice will prevail and will continue to monitor the investigation and advocate for transparency and accountability. "

CBS3's Matt Petrillo and Kerri Corrado contributed to this report.

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