Memphis cop killer says he's indigent

Suspect is being held on $10M bond on a first-degree murder charge in the death of Officer Sean Bolton


By Lucas L. Johnson II
Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An ex-convict charged with fatally shooting a Memphis police officer during a struggle told a judge Wednesday that he is indigent.

Tremaine Wilbourn, 29, was being held on $10 million bond on a first-degree murder charge in the Aug. 1 death of Officer Sean Bolton. During a brief court hearing, he did not enter a plea.

Police said Bolton interrupted a drug deal in a 2002 Mercedes Benz and Wilbourn got out of the car, confronted the officer, and they got into a physical struggle. Wilbourn took out a gun and shot Bolton multiple times, police said. He fled, leading to a two-day manhunt.

Wilbourn's sister, Callie Watkins, told The Associated Press last week that her brother told her over the telephone after the shooting that he was forcibly pulled out of a car by Bolton.

Watkins said her brother described the officer putting Wilbourn in a hold and telling him to put his arms up. But, she said, Wilbourn told the officer that he couldn't because his arms were restrained. That's when the scuffle escalated, she said.

"He needed to defend himself," said Watkins, who has the same mother as her brother but different fathers. "It's self-defense against an aggressive officer. It was kill or be killed."

Wilbourn, who did not have an attorney with him at the hearing, will have a lawyer appointed to represent him.

At the time of the shooting, Wilbourn was on probation for an armed bank robbery. He was sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison and released on probation in July 2014.

Bolton, who was white, was the third Memphis officer to be fatally shot in slightly more than four years. Wilbourn is black.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press

Associated Press
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