State Board Approves Parole for Killer of San Diego Police Officer

Jesus Cecena has been paroled three other times, but the grant was reversed each time by former Gov. Jerry Brown, which Gavin Newsom could choose to do in the next 30 days as well

Cecena (left) and Buggs

A San Diego man who shot and killed a San Diego police officer in 1978 was granted parole suitability on Wednesday, according to San Diego's district attorney.

Jesus Cecena, 59, was a 17-year-old gang member when he shot and killed Officer Archie Buggs in November 1978 in the Skyline neighborhood of San Diego. Cecena shot Buggs four times during a traffic stop. 

Cecena's three-hour hearing took place in Fresno, at Valley State Prison, and virtually via Skype, according to San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan's office, which issued a news release Wednesday afternoon that also stated that the State Parole Board deliberated its decision for approximately 30 minutes.

“We are deeply disappointed that the killer of one of San Diego’s finest officers was granted parole,” Stephan is quoted in the release. “This crime impacted the entire San Diego community and caused great pain for the family of Officer Archie Buggs.”

It's now up to California Gov. Gavin Newsom to review the State Parole Board's ruling and either uphold or reverse the decision.

Cecena was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life with no parole, but his term was later modified to a seven-years-to-life sentence, giving him a chance at parole under a state law that allows youth offenders serving life sentences to petition for release once they have served at least 15 years.

Parole was also granted to Cecena in 2014, 2016 and 2017, but former Gov. Jerry Brown reversed each of those decisions, at one time citing Cecena's "resistance to explore the motivations behind the killing."

Cecena has said in the past that he shot the officer because he feared abandonment by his father if he were to receive a traffic ticket and was caught with alcohol. Stephen's office said in the release on Wednesday that " Cecena’s unstable social history continued during his incarceration; he received more than 10 violation reports for misconduct while in prison."

Newsom has 30 days to respond to the board's decision to parole Cecena.

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