SDPD cop killer again granted 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 man who gunned down a San Diego police officer as a 17-year-old was been granted parole again Wednesday, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Jesus Cecena was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 1979 for killing Officer Archie Buggs. Buggs, 30, was shot four times on the night of Nov. 4, 1978 after stopping a car driven by Cecena, a gang member in the Skyline neighborhood. Cecena fired at Buggs five times and then paused before walking toward the officer and shooting him in the head at point-blank range.

The officer died in the street, his hand still on his service revolver. Because Cecena was underage at the time, his sentence was reduced to a seven years-to-life term in 1982.

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

“This fallen officer was so respected by the law enforcement community that a substation was named after him,” she said. “We are hopeful that Gov. Newsom will review this parole grant and reverse it once again to keep this killer incarcerated.”

Under the California Penal Code, there is a 120 day review period to review facts and legal issues of a case. If it moves forward, the governor then has 30 days to take one of several actions including reversing or modifying the finding, CRCR Press Secretary Dana Simas said in an email Thursday.

“If the Governor takes no action or upholds the decision, the parole moves forward,” Simas said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has not publicly stated whether he plans to review Cecena’s case this time. Newsom reversed a decision last year to grant parole to Cecena, arguing that despite his many years of incarceration he’s still failed to explain his “callous actions” on the night of the crime.

Stephan had urged Newsom to reverse the decision in 2019, citing Cecena’s lack of “honest insight and remorse into this heinous crime.”

Former Gov. Jerry Brown previously reversed Board of Parole decisions to grant Cecena parole in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

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