The alleged killer of Saikou Koma, 21, was released by a New York City judge on probation only months before his alleged crime, according to the New York Post. 

Steven Mendez, 17, is accused of shooting Koma outside his Bronx apartment on Oct. 24. He was arrested Friday and is apparently still in New York Police Department custody. 

Prior reporting indicates that Mendez was arrested for and had previously pleaded guilty to violent armed robbery in 2020.

But the alleged killer had been released on a five year probation sentence in May.

Police believe Saikou Koma, 21, was killed outside his building by 17-year-old Steven Mendez in the Bronx last month. Mendez was on probation for a 2020 armed robbery charge.
Police believe Saikou Koma, 21, was killed outside his building by 17-year-old Steven Mendez in the Bronx last month. Mendez was on probation for a 2020 armed robbery charge. Photo credit: Google Maps

Police: Steven Mendez Killed Saikou Koma

According to the Post, police believe Mendez shot 21-year-old Saikou Koma on Ryer Avenue in the Bronx’s Fordham Heights last month with a .357-caliber handgun. 

Koma was reportedly struck in the head and later died of his wounds, the Post reported, adding that his alleged killer Mendez is a suspected gang member. 

Law enforcement said that Mendez’s gang was seeking revenge after another alleged member was attacked by a rival outfit. They said they believed the murder of Saikou Koma was a case of mistaken identity. 

Koma, according to investigators, was a “completely innocent kid” uninvolved in the gang warfare that police believe Mendez was engaging in. 

Police said Saikou Koma, 21, was killed last month by 17-year-old Steven Mendez, who was released months earlier for an armed robbery charge by a Bronx judge.
Police said Saikou Koma, 21, was killed last month by 17-year-old Steven Mendez, who was released months earlier for an armed robbery charge by a Bronx judge. Photo credit: Facebook

Judge Previously Released Mendez on Probation

According to the Post, 17-year-old Mendez was released on probation in May after he pleaded guilty to first-degree assault, first-degree robbery and felony gun-possession charges stemming from a July 2020 robbery. 

Mendez reportedly shot his alleged victim in the leg during that incident, and that the teen had previously been on NYPD’s rader after he was accused of pulling a loaded .357-caliber handgun on his own mother when she wouldn’t (or couldn’t) give the teen money. 

It is not clear if police believe the same gun was used in both alleged crimes. 

Mendez, who was 16 during the 2020 robbery, was reportedly prosecuted as a “youthful offender.”

The Post said Mendez was released on probation by Bronx County Supreme Court Acting Justice Denis Boyle last year — despite the fact that prosecutors recommended one to four years behind bars for the teen. 

“The judge felt that a state prison sentence at that point in his life for a crime committed as an accomplice at the age of 16 was not warranted and accordingly was sentenced as a [youthful offender] to five years’ probation,” Office of Court Administration spokesman Lucian Chalfen told the Post on Monday.

And so Steven Mendez was released from police custody. Five months later, police believe, he shot and killed Saikou Koma outside of the latter’s Bronx home. 

Steven Mendez, 17, is accused of shooting 'innocent kid' Saikou Koma, 21, in the Bronx last month. Mendex was previously released on probation for armed robbery.
Steven Mendez, 17, is accused of shooting ‘innocent kid’ Saikou Koma, 21, in the Bronx last month. Mendex was previously released on probation for armed robbery. Photo credit: NYPD

“What is wrong with this judge?” said Amar Bully Koma, Saikou’s father. “If this was the judge’s son, or his nephew or a relative, he would not let him go. The city, the mayor. If this was his kid, they would not let him go.”

“This judge let him go, but I’m not letting [it] go,” said Koma’s mother Haja Kaira.. “My son will get justice. This is crazy.” 

“He don’t deserve to be out there,’’ she said, referring to Steven Mendez. “A killer is a killer. He’s going to do it again.”

Not the First Controversy for Judge Boyle

Prior reporting indicates that Acting Justice Boyle has come under fire in the past for releasing youthful offenders who went on to be arrested again. 

In June, the Post reported that NYPD arrested 16-year-old Alberto Ramirez for the murder of Eric Velasquez, 34. Police said that Ramirez shot into a crowd while on the “turf” of a “rival gang,” and that one of the bullets struck and killed Velazquez. 

Judge Denis Boyle came under fire at that time for reportedly reducing the 16-year-old’s bail after police allegedly caught him with an illegal firearm four times in the proceeding three months. 

The judge also reportedly freed 16-year-old Jordon Benjamin when he was suspected of murder — only for the teen to allegedly slash a woman across the stomach about a year later.