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SD Mourns Police Officer Killed In The Line Of Duty

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Video published October 29, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: San Diego police are mourning the first shooting death of an officer in nearly 20 years. It happened early Thursday morning at an apartment complex southeast of downtown. Veteran police officer Christopher Wilson died hours after the confrontation. The police chief says his family was able to spend some precious moments with him at the hospital before he died. KPBS metro reporter Katie Orr gives us some details on the incident.

San Diego police are mourning the first shooting death of an officer in nearly 20 years. It happened early Thursday morning at an apartment complex southeast of downtown. Veteran police officer Christopher Wilson died hours after the confrontation. The police chief says his family was able to spend some precious moments with him at the hospital before he died. KPBS metro reporter Katie Orr gives us some details on the incident.

Guest

KPBS Metro Reporter Katie Orr

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

AS WE REPORTED A SAN DIEGO POLICE OFFICER DIED IN A SHOOTOUT AT AN APARTMENT IN AN EIGHT HOUR SIEGE ENDED THURSDAY WITH THE DEATH OF HUSBAND SUSPECTED KILLER AND ANOTHER PERSON ACCORDING TO POLICE. MAYOR JERRY SANDERS SPOKE ABOUT THE TRAGEDY.

IN SAN DIEGO WE HAVE THE FINEST COLLECTION OF POLICE OFFICERS IN AMERICA. THEY PROVE THIS FACT OVER AND OVER EVERY SINGLE DAY. I COULDN'T BE PROUDER OF ALL OF THEM. I JOIN WITH THEM TODAY IN MOURNING THE LOSS OF SUCH AN INCREDIBLY BRAVE MAN.

HE COULD HAVE GONE ANYWHERE. TO MY OTHER POLICE DIVISION IN THE CITY. BUT HE CHOSE TO STAY IN MY COMMUNITY AND TRAIN NEW OFFICERS ON HOW TO SERVE OUR COMMUNITY WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT.

KPBS METRO REPORTER KATIE WARD JOINS ME NOW WITH MORE ON THIS STORY. WHY WAS OFFICER CHRISTOPHER WILSON CALLED TO SAN DIEGO?

Reporter: HE IS ONE OF SIX POLICE OFFICERS THAT RESPONDED TO CALL BY BACKUP OF THE COUNTY PROBATION DEPARTMENT AND U.S. FEDERAL MARSHALS. THE MARSHALS WERE THERE WITH PROBATION OFFICERS. THEY BELIEVE A SUSPECT THEY WANTED ON ASSAULT CHARGES WAS IN AN APARTMENT WHERE A PROBATIONER ALSO WAS. THE COUNTY PROBATION ALWAYS WENT TO THE APARTMENT, THEY ENDED UP ARRESTING THE PROBATIONER, BUT THEY THEN CALLED FOR BACKUP FOR THE POLICE DEPARTMENT TO ROUND UP THE PEOPLE THAT THEY BELIEVE WERE IN THE APARTMENT. THEY BROKE DOWN A DOOR, AS THEY WENT TO BREAK DOWN THE DOOR THE SUSPECT STARTED FIRING AND THE GUN BATTLE INSUED IN THIS REALTIVELY SMALL AREA. OFFICER WILSON WAS SHOT AND LATER DIED AT TRIP MERCY HOSPITAL.

IT SOUNDS AS THOUGH THERE WERE SEVERAL PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THIS INCIDENT?

YES, THEY BELIEVE THERE WERE FIVE PEOPLE IN THE APARTMENT. AGAIN, THE PROBATIONER WAS ARRESTED PRETTY EARLY ON. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STANDOFF TWO PEOPLE CALLED 911 AND SAID THEY WANTED TO COME OUT OF THE APARTMENT AND THEY DID. THEY SURROUNDERRED AND ARRESTED. LATER ON THEY FOUND THE BODIES OF TWO PEOPLE IN A BEDROOM IN THE APARTMENT. ONE OF THEM HAD BEEN IDENTIFIED AS HOLEM LEE. THE POLICE HAVE NOT COME OUT AND IDENTIFIED THEM BUT HIS PARENTS STEP FORWARD AND WROTE A LETTER AND SAID THEY WERE SORRY. HOLEM LEE WAS A COAST GUARD MEMBER. HE WAS NAMED A HERO FOR RESCUING A COUPLE FROM A BURNING BUILDING AND HE WAS WANTED ON ASSAULT CHARGES. THEY BELIEVE HE DIED IN THE SHOOTOUT.

GIVE US A PICTURE OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD IN WHICH THIS INCIDENT TOOK PLACE.

WELL, IF YOU LOOK AT THE CRIME STATISTICS, SKYLINE THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF SKYLINE HAS SIX VIOLENT CRIMES PER EVERY 1,000 PEOPLE. THAT'S ACCORDING TO SAN DIEGO POLICE DEPARTMENT CRIME STATISTICS FROM THE BEGINNING OF THIS YEAR TO SEPTEMBER. IF YOU LOOK AT OTHER NEIGHBORHOODSCARE KNEE MASA HAS 32 VIOLENT CRIMES. LOGAN HEIGHTS HAD TEN. PACIFIC BEACH HAD ABOUT FIVE. SO SIX IS NOT --IT DIDN'T JUMP OUT LOOKING AT THE CRIME STATISTICS AS A VIOLENT NEIGHBORHOOD WHEN COMPARED TO OTHER NEIGHBORHOODS AROUND THE CITY. SOUTHEAST SAN DIEGO DOES HAVE A REPUTATION OF BEING MORE VIOLENT, BUT AGAIN WHEN LOOKING AT THE CRIME STATISTICS IT DOESN'T PAN OUT THAT WAY.

MAYBE IT'S AN UNFAIRLY DESERVED REPUTATION. WHAT ABOUT POLICE SHOOTINGS? WE UNDERSTAND THIS IS THE FIRST ONE THAT HAS HAPPENED IN 20 YEARS? >> YEAH, THE LAST TIME --IN THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO A POLICE OFFICER WAS SHOT AND KILLED WAS IN 1991. I SPOKE TO THE POLICE DEPARTMENT IN THE '70s AND '80s IT WAS MORE COMMON. SINCE 1991 THERE HASN'T BEEN A POLICE OFFICER SHOT AND KILLED IN THE CITY.

TELL US ABOUT THIS POLICE OFFICER. OFFICER WILSON.

HE HAD BEEN WITH THE DEPARTMENT FOR 17 YEARS. HE SPENT ALL OF THAT TIME WITH THE SOUTH EASTERN DIVISION. HE HAS TWO CHILDREN A 20-YEAR- OLD DAUGHTER AND 17-YEAR-OLD SON. HE HAD RETIRED FROM THE U.S. NAVY AS A LIEUTENANT BEFORE JOINING THE POLICE DEPARTMENT. HE WAS A PATROL OFFICER AND ALSO A FIELD TRAINING OFFICER. MEANING THAT HE WORKED WITH ROOKIES RIGHT OUT OF THE POLICE ACADEMY TO GET THEM USED TO BEING IN THE FIELD. HE WAS A WELL RESPECTED OFFICER.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

THANK YOU.

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