Man who fatally shot San Diego cop in 1978 granted parole

The former gang member was initially given life in prison but later had his sentence reduced because he was 17 years old at the time

By Suzie Ziegler

SAN DIEGO — A man who fatally shot a San Diego Police officer over 40 years ago has been granted parole.

Jesus Cecena, a former gang member, was convicted of killing SDPD officer Archie Buggs during a traffic stop in 1978. Cecena was 17 years old when he shot Buggs four times before killing him with a final shot point-blank.

SDPD Officer Archie Buggs was fatally shot while conducting a traffic stop in 1978.
SDPD Officer Archie Buggs was fatally shot while conducting a traffic stop in 1978. (Photo/San Diego County District Attorney's Office)

Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs said Wednesday that the parole board feels Cecena is no longer a risk to society, reported KGTV. However, the San Diego District Attorney's office believes he should stay in prison.

"He hasn't come to grips with the crime," Sachs told KGTV. "He doesn't own the causative factors of this offense. He does not accept his true motivation behind committing this crime."

Cecena was originally sentenced to life in prison, but his term was later modified to seven years to life because of his age, making him eligible for Youth Offender Parole. He's since been denied parole 14 times, the latest being in 2019. The seriousness of his crime was cited each time as a reason for denial, said KGTV.

Buggs' former partner, Jesse Navarro, told KGTV that he recalls the traffic stop vividly.

"It was a planned execution by gang members in the area. They'd been talking about killing a police officer in the area for a number of months," Navarro said.

Buggs died in his partner's arms a month before he was to be married.

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