Suspect Identified in Memphis Cop Killing

Officer Sean Bolton was killed during a traffic stop, police say.

ByABC News
August 2, 2015, 8:30 PM

— -- Police in Tennessee Sunday identified the suspect they are seeking in connection with the fatal shooting of a police officer investigating an illegally parked car, and they announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

The suspect, Tremaine Wilbourn, was wanted for the murder of a police officer and is considered armed and dangerous, according to the Shelby County Sheriff's Office.

Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said Wilbourn, 29, is out on supervised release for a 121-month federal sentence for bank robbery.

Memphis Police Officer Sean Bolton Armstrong spotted an illegally parked 2002 Mercedes in a southeast Memphis neighborhood late Saturday night and shined his squad car's spotlight into it, Armstrong said. The suspect got out of the car and the two scuffled before he allegedly shot the officer, Armstrong said.

The suspect responsible for the shooting and the driver of the vehicle fled the scene before additional officers arrived, police said.

Bolton, 33, was hospitalized and later died.

"After inventorying the suspect vehicle, it was found that Officer Bolton apparently interrupted some sort of drug transaction," Armstrong said. "A digital scale and a small bag of marijuana, about 1.7 grams, were located inside of the vehicle.

"He's literally destroyed a family," Armstrong said of the suspect. "Look at the impact that that's had on this department, this community, this city for less than 2 grams of marijuana -- a misdemeanor citation and a fine."

Bolton, a former Marine who served a tour in Iraq, had been a Memphis police officer since 2010, the police said.

Earlier Sunday, police had said that a person of interest in the case had been taken into custody, but they said this evening that person was the driver of the vehicle, who had turned himself in, and he was released without charges.

Bolton is the third Memphis officer to be fatally shot in slightly more than four years. Officer Tim Warren was killed while responding to a shooting at a downtown Memphis hotel in July 2011. In December 2012, Officer Martoiya Lang was killed while serving a warrant.

Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton Jr. said Bolton's death "speaks volumes about the inherent danger of police work" and asked others to "pray for the family and pray for our city." During past police shootings, both Wharton and Armstrong have said too many violent criminals are out on the street and have easy access to guns.

"The men and women in blue have certain rules of engagement that they have to follow, but at any given minute in a 24-hour day they're dealing with folks who have no rules of engagement," Wharton said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.