SAN DIEGO — Video above: News 8's Bill Lagattuta reported on the murder and subsequent arrests on Nov. 4, 1978.
The State Board of Parole granted parole Wednesday to a 59-year-old inmate who shot and killed a San Diego police officer in 1978. Jesus Cecena has been granted parole four times previously but the decision was reversed each time by the California governor in office.
Cecena shot Officer Archie Buggs four times after the policeman had stopped the car Cecena was driving in the Skyline neighborhood. Cecena was 17 years old at the time and a gang member.
Cecena fired five times at Buggs, then paused, walked toward the fallen officer and fired a final bullet into his head at point-blank range, according to San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan.
The officer died in the street, his hand still on his service revolver.
Stephan said her office made "vigorous and compelling" arguments against Cecena's parole.
Cecena's 18th parole hearing lasted three hours and included discussion of his criminal record, psychiatric factors, parole plans, and statements by representatives of the victim’s family, according to Stephan. The board announced its decision after 30 minutes of deliberation during a video-conferenced hearing at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla.
“We are deeply disappointed that the killer of one of San Diego’s finest officers was granted parole,” 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. We are hopeful that Governor Newsom will review this parole grant and reverse it once again to keep this killer incarcerated.”
Cecena was previously granted parole four times in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. Each time the decision was reversed - three times by then-Governor Jerry Brown and once by current Governor Gavin Newsom which was announced in January 2019. Cecena first came up for parole in 1986 and was denied several times throughout the 1980s, '90s and early 2000s.
He was originally sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in 1979 but because he was 17 at the time his sentence was reduced to seven years to life in 1982.
The DA's office reported Cecena has received more than 10 violation reports for misconduct while in prison.
Cecena’s parole was also opposed by San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit and the San Diego Police Officers Association.
In 2017, a Skyline-area police substation was rededicated to honor Officer Buggs. The SDPD Southeastern Division headquarters was renamed the Archie Buggs Memorial Building.