Earlier this month, reporter Samantha Silva sat with Juan Méndez and Josefina Rizo in the living room of their Los Angeles home. She was there to interview the couple about their 16-year-old son, José Juan Méndez, who was fatally shot in February during an encounter with police.
Méndez, who police say was armed and driving a stolen car at the time of the shooting, is one of five people killed by officers in the city’s Boyle Heights neighborhood in the first eight months of 2016, Silva reported this week. That living-room interview was “emotional,” she recalls, and not just for the teen’s parents. “I used to see [Jose] in school—I had conversations with him once or twice. He could’ve been my friend. Or cousin.”