Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

Newsom Reverses Parole Decision For Man Who Killed SDPD Officer In 1978

Jesus Cecena is pictured in this undated photo.

Credit: 10News

Above: Jesus Cecena is pictured in this undated photo.

Gov. Gavin Newsom reversed a parole board's decision to release a 59-year-old man who was a teenage gang member when he killed a San Diego police officer in 1978, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.

Jesus Cecena was convicted of killing Officer Archie Buggs, 30, who was shot four times after he stopped a car driven by Cecena in the Skyline neighborhood.

Cecena, then 17, fired five times at Buggs, then paused, walked toward the fallen officer and fired a final bullet into his head at point-blank range.

Cecena, who is serving a life sentence, was granted parole in June, a decision that was heavily criticized by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

Newsom reversed the parole board's decision on Monday, marking the second time he has reversed a parole grant for Cecena. Former Gov. Jerry Brown also reversed parole grants for Cecena in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

RELATED: Cop’s Killer Gets Parole Despite Protest From San Diego DA

Newsom cited Cecena's gang motivations as a major factor in his decision.

"Mr. Cecena still is unwilling to acknowledge the underlying or causative factors that are in evidence, specifically that he belonged to a gang where killing a peace officer was seen as an ultimate goal, that a more senior and respected gang member handed him a firearm so he could kill Officer Buggs, and that killing Officer Buggs was a way for Mr. Cecena to gain more respect and power within his gang," Newsom wrote. "Mr. Cecena has additional work to do in this area before he can be safely released."

Cecena's next parole hearing is in December 2021.

In 1979, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but the sentence was reduced to a seven-year-to-life term in 1982 due to him being underage at the time of the shooting.

"This defendant killed an on-duty police officer in cold blood and in spite of his claims to the contrary, he once again lacks honest insight and remorse into this heinous crime," District Attorney Summer Stephan said. "We appreciate the governor's thoughtful analysis and ultimate decision to reverse parole and safeguard the public. Officer Buggs was one of the first African- American police officers in San Diego and he was a hero to his family, his law enforcement colleagues and to the entire San Diego community. We will continue to fight for justice on his behalf."


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.