A state parole board has granted parole to a prison inmate convicted of murdering a San Diego police officer.
The shooting happened nearly four decades ago.
Jesus Cecena was 17 when he gunned down 30-year-old patrol officer Archie Buggs during a traffic stop in the Skyline area in November, 1978.
Since then he's been recommended for parole from Valley State prison twice -- but Gov. Jerry Brown later overturned those decisions.
On Thursday, he was again granted parole suitability and the decision will now stand up to Gov. Brown for review. If approved, Cecena will be given parole.
NBC 7 spoke to Jesse Navarro, the former partner of Officer Buggs.
"I am a believer of somebody have a second opportunity. Somebody who makes a mistake, I do believe in that, and I've supported that," Navarro said. "But when somebody plans and premeditates and executes an officer, a good officer, a good person. That person, whether it's a police officer or whether it’s another innocent person, they do not belong in the streets committing crimes.”
Navarro said he talked to Buggs' family Thursday and they are heartbroken over the decision.
San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman also released the following statement:
"We are incredibly disappointed by the poor decision of the parole board to free Cop Killer Jesus Cecena. He is a threat to public safety and deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars. We will petition Governor Brown to reverse this decision and send the right message to those who commit such despicable crimes."
“We're hoping this message gets to Governor Brown and once he will understand our plea and not release a cop killer,” Navarro said.
Buggs was wounded in a hail of pistol bullets, then killed with a shot to the temple while he lay on the ground.
His partner, Jesse Navarro, is now a top executive in the San Diego District Attorney's Office.
Prosecutors are at the maximum security lockup to make their case for keeping Cecena under a life sentence.
He was turned down after parole hearings 13 times until 2014 and '15.
The San Diego Police Department and San Diego Police Officers Assn. strongly objected to Cecena's release, prompting the governor to reverse those recent parole decisions.
Prison administrators have cited Cecena for 10 conduct violations over the years.
Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs told NBC 7 that parole officials who approved Cecena’s release insisted on evidence that Buggs was, in effect, "executed" at close range.
The DA's office has since submitted blood spatter material from beneath the patrol car Buggs was lying next to.
Buggs was the first of nine San Diego police officers to be killed in the line of duty over a seven-year period – the most of any department in the nation.