Sister of Alleged Memphis Cop Shooter: ‘It Was Kill or Be Killed’

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Tremaine Wilbourn
KFOR screenshot
Tremaine Wilbourn
KFOR screenshot

The sister of a 29-year-old man charged with fatally shooting a Memphis, Tenn., police officer said the shooting was in self-defense because the officer was too aggressive and left her brother no choice.

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Callie Watkins, 28, claims that before her brother, Tremaine Wilbourn, turned himself in to police, he told her his version of events. On Wednesday, Watkins told the Associated Press that Officer Sean Bolton was aggressive with her brother Saturday evening when he pulled Wilbourn from the 2002 Mercedes-Benz he was sitting in. Police claim that the car was illegally parked and that when the officer approached the car, a scuffle ensued and Bolton was shot.

Watkins claims that her brother told her that when Bolton, 33, approached the car, he grabbed Wilbourn and put him in a hold. The officer also reportedly told Wilbourn to put his hands up, which he claims he was unable to do because he was being held.

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Watkins told AP that the two men scuffled at this point. According to police, Wilbourn drew his own gun and shot the officer multiple times. According to AP, Watkins has no idea where her brother got the gun from and didn't know him to own one, but added, "He needed to defend himself. It's self-defense against an aggressive officer. It was kill or be killed."

A spokeswoman for the Memphis Police Department declined to comment on Watkins' allegations but noted that the evidence will speak to what happened that evening.

On Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of people—officers, firefighters, members of Bolton's family and friends—gathered at a church memorial service to honor the slain officer. Bolton will be buried on Thursday, according to AP.

"Sean genuinely wanted to help all Memphians to live safely and peaceably within our community," a statement released by Bolton's family reads. "Sean's concern, his only concern, was not the color of the skin of the person he was dealing with but rather whether or not they were committing a crime."

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Wilbourn turned himself in Monday and reportedly stated that he isn't a cold-blooded killer or a coward, which a police official called him during a press conference.

A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 12 to find out if Wilbourn has found an attorney; if he has not, he will be appointed a public defender. Wilbourn is being held on a $10 million bond.

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Read more at the Associated Press.

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