Prosecutors to seek death in Memphis officer's shooting

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Prosecutors said Monday they will seek the death penalty in the fatal shooting of a Memphis police officer last year.

The Shelby County district attorney's office filed notice of its intent to seek death in the trial of 30-year-old Tremaine Wilbourn, an ex-convict accused of killing Officer Sean Bolton.

Wilbourn was indicted Jan. 28 on charges of first-degree murder, carjacking, employing a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony and being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun. He is being held on $10 million bond.

Police said Bolton interrupted a drug deal in a 2002 Mercedes Benz parked on a street in a residential Memphis neighborhood on Aug. 1. Wilbourn, who was a passenger in the car, exited the vehicle and confronted the officer, and they got into a physical struggle, police said.

Wilbourn took out a gun and shot Bolton, police said. An autopsy report showed Bolton was shot eight times.

Wilbourn fled the scene and carjacked a motorist as he got away, prosecutors said. Wilbourn led officers on a two-day manhunt before turning himself in to U.S. marshals.

Wilbourn's sister, Callie Watkins, has told The Associated Press that her brother was trying to defend himself from an aggressive officer who had him in a hold. One of Wilbourn's public defenders, Kindle Nance, said in a September hearing that Wilbourn should have been charged with second-degree murder or manslaughter.

Bolton, who was white, was one of four Memphis officers to be fatally shot since July 2011. Wilbourn is black.

At the time of the shooting, 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 court documents. It's not clear whether he was ever evaluated.

Wilbourn also faces federal charges of armed carjacking and felony possession of ammunition in Bolton's shooting.