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VOL. 130 | NO. 149 | Monday, August 3, 2015

Wilbourn Turns Self In To Marshals

By Bill Dries

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Memphis Police officer Sean Bolton apparently saw a car parked illegally Saturday night near South Perkins and Cottonwood roads and interrupted a minor drug deal in the car, leading to a fight with a passenger in the car who shot Bolton to death.

The death of Memphis police officer Sean Bolton came as Bolton apparently interrupted a drug deal in a car, according to Memphis Police director Toney Armstrong. Bolton’s death also prompted Armstrong to talk more about the Black Lives Matter movement.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

That is according to a basic outline of the incident Sunday, Aug. 2, by Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong.

Tremaine Wilbourn, the 29-year old suspect in Bolton's death, turned himself in to U.S. Marshals Monday afternoon. From there, Wilbourn was turned over to Memphis Police.

His surrender came as funeral services for Bolton were scheduled for Thursday at Bellevue Baptist Church.

“We’re talking about less than two grams of marijuana,” Armstrong said Sunday as he held up a picture of Wilbourn. “You are looking at a coward. He’s a coward. You gun down, you murder a police officer for less than two grams of marijuana. You’ve destroyed a family.”

Those living on the 4800 block of Summerlane Avenue who heard the gunshots called police, including a neighbor who called using the police radio in Bolton’s patrol car.

Armstrong said officers later found and questioned the driver of the car and he has been released without charge.

The U.S. Marshal’s Service is offering a $10,000 reward in the shooting, and the Memphis City Council will consider a resolution Tuesday to match that from city funds for a $20,000 reward, according to council chairman Myron Lowery.

Wilbourn had recently completed serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison for a 2005 bank robbery in Covington with his uncle Adam Mackey. Wilbourn was still on supervised release from the federal conviction at the time of Saturday’s shooting.

He and his uncle pleaded guilty in February 2006 to the bank robbery and related firearms charges.

Bolton joined the Memphis Police Department in late 2010 and was a Marine Corps veteran who served a tour of duty in Iraq before going to work on the Mount Moriah police station’s Delta shift.

In announcing Bolton’s death Saturday evening outside the emergency room of Regional One Health and again Sunday, Armstrong talked about the city’s violence in general and attempts to distinguish between victims of that violence.

“At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves: Do all lives matter? Regardless of race, creed, color, economic status, what profession that person holds – all lives matter,” Armstrong said Saturday. “How do you say one life is more important than another?”

Armstrong elaborated on the point Sunday.

“We as a community must come together and realize that all lives matter,” he said. “Not just black lives, not just white lives. All lives matter.”

The comments are a specific response to what has come to be known as the Black Lives Matter movement, which is a response across the nation to police shootings and similar incidents involving African-American men and women.

Memphis has had peaceful protests and events since late last year reflecting local concerns over incidents in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore and other cities. And Armstrong has said those concerns are legitimate.

Armstrong as well as Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. have said the July 17 fatal shooting of Darrius Stewart by Memphis police officer Connor Schilling has to be viewed in the context of the national environment in which police policies on the use of force are being questioned.

Stewart was a passenger in a car that was stopped by police for a traffic violation.

Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich moved to hand over the investigation into Stewart’s death to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Wharton has also called for an examination of police policies in traffic stops, specifically whether there should be a policy that forbids officers from detaining a passenger in a vehicle or sets specific conditions under which an officer can detain passengers.

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