Pubdate: Mon, 03 Aug 2015
Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Copyright: 2015 The Commercial Appeal
Author: Jody Callahan


Police Issue Warrant for Suspect in Slaying of Officer

Memphis police were looking Sunday for a 29-year-old bank robber they 
believe shot and killed one of their own after a traffic stop Saturday night.

In a Sunday evening news conference, officials identified the suspect 
as Tremaine Wilbourn, who was convicted of robbing the Friendship 
Bank in Covington in 2005. He was on supervised release after being 
sentenced to 10 years for that robbery.

Police believe Wilbourn is the man who shot Sean Bolton, who was 
gunned down just after 9:15 p.m. Saturday at 4871 Summerlane in 
Parkway Village. By late Sunday, Wilbourn remained on the run, 
accused of first-degree murder. A reward of $10,000 has been posted 
for his capture, and that is expected to grow to $20,000.

"When you look at this individual, you're looking at a coward," an 
emotional Armstrong said at the news conference. "He's a coward."

Armstrong said Bolton, a patrolman assigned to the Mt. Moriah 
station, saw a red 2002 Mercedes-Benz parked illegally on Summerlane. 
Bolton pulled in front of the car and turned on his spotlight.

As Bolton approached the Mercedes, the passenger got out and a 
struggle ensued, police said. The passenger then opened fire, hitting 
Bolton multiple times at close range.

"After inventorying the suspect vehicle, it was found that Officer 
Bolton apparently interrupted some sort of drug transaction," 
Armstrong said, noting that police found a digital scale and 1.7 
grams of marijuana. "We're talking about less than 2 grams of 
marijuana. We're talking about a misdemeanor citation. We probably 
would not have even transported for that."

That fact particularly outraged Armstrong.

"You gun down, you murder a police officer, for less than 2 grams of 
marijuana," he said. "You literally destroy a family. Look at the 
impact this has had on this department, this community, this city, 
for less than 2 grams of marijuana."

After the shooting, the passenger and driver fled on foot, leaving 
the car. It was not known whether they took any other drugs from the 
car before they fled. A man who lives near the site of the shooting 
found the officer and used Bolton's radio to call police dispatch for help.

"You have a citizen who was visibly shaken by what he saw," Armstrong 
said. "It's probably something that he'll never forget the rest of 
his life. But we are grateful that he did take the initiative to get 
on that radio and to alert additional officers."

The terms of Wilbourn's release on the bank robbery charge were not 
available Sunday. He originally was sentenced to 121 months - 10 
years, one month - for the June 15, 2005, robbery, but it was unclear 
how much of that he served.

Wilbourn, 19 at the time, and an accomplice burst into the bank a 
little after 9 a.m. that day, wearing ski masks and brandishing guns. 
As they ran from the bank, the pair kept dropping money - police 
eventually recovered $7,500 in three different locations. Police 
arrested both suspects later that day.

Earlier Sunday, the driver of the Mercedes turned himself in to 
police for questioning. According to his lawyer, Leslie Ballin, the 
driver "provided the police with valuable information about what 
happened." Police released him without any charges.

On Sunday, police also recovered a handgun a few blocks away from the 
shooting; it was not known whether that was the weapon used to kill Bolton.

Mayor A C Wharton said at Sunday's news conference that he got a call 
of condolences from the White House. He added that, in addition to 
the $10,000 reward posted by the U.S. Marshals, he was asking the 
City Council to offer another $10,000.

Bolton, who graduated from White Station High School in 1999, served 
a tour in Iraq. He joined MPD in October 2010.

Reached Sunday afternoon, Bolton's family declined to comment but 
said they would be releasing a statement later.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom