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ODMP Remembers...

Patrolman James P. Lewis | San Diego Police Department, California San Diego Police Department, California

Patrolman

James P. Lewis

San Diego Police Department, California

End of Watch: Tuesday, December 29, 1970

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 23

Tour: 2 years

Badge # 995

Cause: Gunfire

Weapon: Handgun

Offender: Sentenced to life

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Patrolman James Lewis was shot and killed while off duty when identified himself as a police officer. He and two other officers had gone to a bar when they noticed several individuals giving the doorman a hard time. Patrolman Lewis identified himself as an officer and escorted the men to their car to get identification. Instead, one of the men produced a handgun and shot Patrolman Lewis. Although mortally wounded, he was able to return fire, striking the vehicle several times.

The bullet holes in the car helped identify the suspects when the car was found several days later. The suspects were arrested and sentenced to life. While in prison one of the suspects murdered another prisoner to prevent him from testifying in a court case. The suspect was sentenced to a second life sentence for that murder.

Patrolman Lewis had served with the agency for two years. He was survived by his wife and daughter.

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Since I had law enforcement in my family, I had a police radio as a kid. When I was around 12 or so, I heard the entire call over my police radio when Officer Lewis was killed. I remember I was in my bedroom, and I totally went ballistic. I ran out of the room, hysterical over what I had heard.

I didn't know Officer Lewis, but I didn't have to. In my eyes, he was a brother. I remember being completely devastated and wanting to go to his funeral to honor him, but my parents were worried about me because I had already been devastated over the shooting of a good friend, SDPD Officer Frank Wilson not long before Officer Lewis. Officer Wilson lived, but never came back to me, so my parents wouldn't let me attend the funeral for Officer Lewis.

I remember running down the street, trying to reach the funeral, but I couldn't run fast or far enough.

I have NEVER stopped thinking of Officer Lewis over the years, and I will never forget him. He is a hero.

former SDPD Explorer Captain
san diego police explorers post 250
November 30, 2016

 

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