Governor reverses teen cop killer’s parole

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At left is a recent photo of Jesus Cecena, who as a 17-year-old gang member killed San Diego Police Officer Archie Buggs, right, on Nov. 4, 1978. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; San Diego Police Department)

SAN DIEGO — A one-time youth gang member who killed a patrolman in the Skyline area in 1978 remained imprisoned Monday in the wake of a decision by Gov. Jerry Brown to again deny him parole.

Brown’s decision, which he issued late Friday, reverses the state parole board’s February grant of conditional release to 55-year-old Jesus Cecena, who shot San Diego police Officer Archie Buggs during a traffic stop on Nov. 4, 1978.

Cecena’s bids to get out of prison have been rebuffed on more than a dozen occasions, including three times by Brown. Cecena’s next parole hearing is set for August.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan urged Brown to reverse the board’s decision, asserting that paroling him would jeopardize public safety because Cecena had failed to recognize egregious cold-bloodedness of the killing.

Stephan and Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs led the effort to keep Cecena in prison at a parole hearing five months ago in which they described the murder.

Buggs, 30, came under fire after he stopped a car driven by Cecena, who was 17 the time. Cecena fired five times at Buggs, then paused, walked toward the downed officer and shot him in the head at point-blank range. Buggs died on the street, his hand still on his service revolver.

“We’re grateful Governor Brown recognized that Cecena is not ready to be released because he has not acknowledged the callousness of his crime,” Stephan said.

“Not accepting responsibility for the cruel nature in which he executed a police officer shows that Cecena remains unpredictable and dangerous.”

Cecena was convicted of murder and sentenced to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole in August 1979. Because of his age at the time of the slaying, his sentence was reduced to a seven-years-to-life term in 1982.

Three years ago, a change in the law made Cecena eligible for youth offender parole. His release was approved by the board in April 2014, but Brown overturned the panel’s recommendation that September, then did so again two years later.

Cecena’s prospects for parole continue to be opposed by Stephan, San Diego Police Department Chief Shelley Zimmerman, the San Diego Police Officers Association and the San Diego Black Police Officers Association, among others.

Cecena has received more than 10 violation reports for misconduct while in prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office.