Patrolman James P. Lewis

Patrolman James P. Lewis

San Diego Police Department, California

End of Watch Tuesday, December 29, 1970

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James P. Lewis

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 at 3048 Midway Drive 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 twice.

The bullet holes in the car helped identify the suspects when the car was found later eight blocks from a motel where they were arrested. Two Michigan brothers with long criminal records in and around Detroit were apprehended. On February 10, 1971, in the county jail, the 22-year-old along with another prisoner strangled to death a notorious California serial killer known as the "Candle Light Killer." On April 24, 1971, he was convicted of second-degree murder and two counts of armed robbery, and sentenced to life. Two months later he was convicted of the serial killer's murder and sentenced to another life term. His brother was convicted of accessory to murder and sentenced to one to five years.

Patrolman Lewis had served with the San Diego Police Department for two years. He was survived by his wife and daughter.


  • Age 23
  • Tour 2 years
  • Badge 995

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender Sentenced to life

disorderly, off duty

Most Recent Reflection

View all 15 Reflections

To the family, friends, and fellow officers who served with Patrolman ‘Pat’ Lewis,
Please know others have not forgotten Pat, (aka ‘Red’ to me and my co-workers) and his dedication and sacrifice for the citizens of San Diego. His exuberance for life, great sense of humor, love for family and friends, and his passionate dedication to Law Enforcement are remembered, and should be celebrated, always. In memory of his service and due to the desire to see justice served, a few years after Pat passed, I moved to the East Coast, and graduated from a Police Academy there as one of the first female police officers in the United States. I later became a mother and a teacher and told the many thousands of students I have had over the years the story of ‘Red’ - his dedication and ultimate sacrifice -and that they should respect Law Enforcement Officers and recognize the sacrifices made by all Police Officers and their families.
Truly, he is not forgotten and remains an inspiration always.

Sandra Witham
Friend (and former V.B.P.D. Officer)

February 6, 2021

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