12/07/2000

DA: September shooting death of
California bank robber was legally justified
[SAN DIEGO, CA]

PoliceOne Staff Report
(SAN DIEGO) -- Three officers' long gun battle in September with a bank robber who died from police bullets was justified, District Attorney Paul J. Pfingst has determined.

A San Diego sergeant and a sergeant and officer from La Mesa responded appropriately when Samuel Lamont Wimberly, 22, fired at them. Wimberly had been cornered after leaving the bank branch with more than $50,000 that he had taken at gunpoint, Pfingst has ruled.

Wimberly robbed a Cuyamaca Bank in La Mesa at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 13, then stole a bank employee's car and led officers on a chase. When cornered, Wimberly fired at San Diego Police Sgt. Philip Martz, La Mesa Police Officer Robert Lowery and La Mesa Police Sgt. Juan Medero. They returned more than 50 rounds of fire, striking Wimberly once in the stomach and four times in the legs, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Officers were not injured. After the gun battle the mortally wounded Wimberly asked the officers, to "finish him off by shooting in the head," the newspaper reported. He died after being taken to the hospital.

Pfingst's letter to Police Chief David Bejarano, stated, "Under the circumstances, the officers' beliefs that their lives and lives of fellow officers were in danger were reasonable and their use of deadly force was justified and not unlawful," according to the newspaper.

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