Memphis cop killer makes appearance in court

Suspect has been charged with first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of an officer


By Adrian Sainz
Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An ex-convict charged with fatally shooting a police officer who interrupted a drug deal on a Memphis street has a court appearance scheduled for Wednesday, the same day a memorial service is set for the slain officer.

Tremaine Wilbourn, 29, who is charged with first-degree murder, was to appear before a judge in a video arraignment, Shelby County court records show. Police say Wilbourn turned himself in to authorities Monday, ending a two-day manhunt following the death of Officer Sean Bolton, 33, on Saturday night. He was being held on $9 million bond.

A makeshift memorial rests on the sidewalk Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, at the location where Memphis, Tenn., Police Officer Sean Bolton was fatally shot.
A makeshift memorial rests on the sidewalk Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, at the location where Memphis, Tenn., Police Officer Sean Bolton was fatally shot. (AP Image)

Bolton was a former Marine who served in Iraq. Friends remembered his size and physical strength, but said he avoided confrontation whenever possible. He overcame a financially troubled childhood — during which he sometimes had no bed and slept on the floor, and later attended the University of Memphis.

Bolton, who was white, was the third Memphis officer to be fatally shot in slightly more than four years. Wilbourn, who also goes by the name Tremaine Martin, is black.

Police say Wilbourn was a passenger in a 2002 Mercedes Benz that was parked illegally. Bolton shined his squad car's light on the Mercedes and approached the car on foot. Wilbourn got out, confronted Bolton, and they got into a physical struggle, police said.

Wilbourn took out a gun and fired, striking Bolton multiple times, police said.

Wilbourn and the driver of the Mercedes ran away, and a neighbor used Bolton's radio to notify police about the shooting, police said.

The driver later turned himself in to police, and was released without charges.

Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said Bolton had interrupted a drug deal, and officers found about 1.7 grams of marijuana in the car.

Wilbourn was on probation for an armed bank robbery. Wilbourn was sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison and released on probation in July 2014. He was ordered to undergo mental health treatment July 7, according to federal court documents released Monday. It's not clear whether he was ever evaluated.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press

Recommended for you

Copyright © 2021 Police1. All rights reserved.