Tulsa Police Officer's Name Released In Fatal Shooting

Wednesday, September 30th 2009, 7:28 am
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A suspect shot by a Tulsa police officer has died.

Tulsa officer Kevin Warne is on paid leave after shooting and killing 26-year-old Shem Lee. The shooting happened Tuesday night near 61st and South Peoria while some gang officers were on patrol.

The suspect who was shot had been arrested last Friday for trespassing and he had only been out of prison for nine months, after admitting he had a gun while trying to break into a woman's house.

Police say the gang officers saw three men walking in the middle of the street and tried to stop them. Officers say two stopped, but Shem Lee, ran.

They say Officer Warne chased Lee, who had a gun and the officer was forced to fire two shots -- all happening very fast.

"People don't care. They have guns and point them at you. You're in the fight for your life and it happens in a split second," said Sgt. Mike Huff, TPD Major Crimes Unit.

Records show Lee was sentenced to seven years for an attempted burglary and gun possession and served about two. He was released in January of this year.

Police say what should've been a low key stop instead turned into a deadly situation.

"People describe police work as hours and hours of boredom, interrupted with moments of sheer terror and that's what happened here," said Sgt. Mike Huff.

That area of Tulsa has struggled with high crime for many years. In 2003, a Tulsa officer shot and killed a woman after he saw her rob and shoot an innocent man who was making a phone call.

In 2006, a deputy shot a suspect after hearing shots fired and seeing the vehicle speed off.

In 2007, a Tulsa officer fired shots after a suspect pointed a gun at him.

Officers say too many criminals have guns and are willing to use them on whoever gets in their path.

"We really try to focus on firearms and the misuse of firearms and it's like stomping out a forest fire barefooted. Everybody's got a gun, every encounter we're going into, it seems people have weapons. It's a scary time to be a policeman," said Sgt. Mike Huff.

Two investigations are taking place. The first is the criminal case, where officers will collect evidence, interview witnesses and forward that to the District Attorney. The second is the internal case, where the department will decide whether the shooting followed policy.