Sheriff Concludes Wilson Shooting Investigation, Officers Cleared

Kenneth Ray Wilson

From Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko: We have called a press conference regarding the investigation of the officer-involved shooting that occurred on August 4, 2011, on South Market near Ellis Street. The shooting occurred within Redding Police Department’s jurisdiction and involved Redding Police officers and an officer from the California Highway Patrol. Redding Police initiated the Shasta County Multi-Agency Officer-Involved Critical Incident Protocol. They requested the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office be the lead investigative agency for this incident. Copies of the protocol are available.

Assisting the Sheriff’s Office with the investigation were allied agencies consisting of the Redding Police Department (RPD), California Highway Patrol (CHP), Shasta Interagency Narcotics Task Force (SINTF), Shasta County District Attourney’s Office, California Department of Justice Bureau of Investigation & Intelligence (BI&I), California CDCR Redding Parole Unit, the City of Redding Public Works, and Cal-Trans for traffic control. I thank all of these agencies and their staff for the assistance in this investigation.

Local law enforcement officers had been actively looking since early July for Kenneth Ray Wilson. Wilson was a wanted felon for an outstanding armed robbery and burglary warrant from a Redding Police Department case. He was also wanted on an outstanding warrant for an attempted armed robbery from a Sheriff’s Office case. Wilson had eight other outstanding warrants for his arrest. He was also under investigation by Shasta Interagency Narcotics Task Force (SINTF) for drug-related offenses.

On August 4, 2011, law enforcement officers from SINTF, RPD, CHP, and Redding Parole received information that a wanted felon, Kenneth Ray Wilson, DOB 08/24/1969, was possibly at an address on Veda Street in South Redding. Officer(s) of the Redding Police Department confirmed a subject matching Wilson’s description had been seen recently at the Veda Street address. Officers developed a plan to surround the house and order Wilson out of the residence. With the information law enforcement officers had, if Wilson did not come out of the Veda Street address, officers would secure a perimeter and the Redding Police Department SWAT team would be requested to respond to the address. Officers had developed reliable information that Wilson was armed with a handgun, would not be taken into custody, and would shoot any law enforcement officer who came into contact with him.

As law enforcement officers arrived and began surrounding the Veda Street house to set the perimeter, Wilson was spotted fleeing through a back window of the house into the alley between the commercial business of Redding Transmission and the Veda Street address. Wilson ran south between Redding Transmission and the Veda Street address.

Photo: Alan Ernesto Phillips

Officers chased him and the foot pursuit continued south toward the south end of Redding Transmission. Wilson ran east across South Market Street (Hwy 273) near Ellis Street. During the foot pursuit, the officers were yelling orders to Wilson to stop and put his hands up. Independent witnesses at the scene confirmed this information.

As Wilson crossed South Market Street, he turned on pursuing officers, pulled a small caliber semi-automatic handgun from his pants, and fired this weapon at pursuing officers. Three independent citizen witnesses, along with five law enforcement officers at the scene, also confirmed this information.

Fearing for their safety and lives and the safety and lives of the public, officers from California Highway Patrol and Redding Police Department returned fire, striking Wilson multiple times. According to witness statements and officer statements, Wilson did not immediately go down as officers were firing upon him. Wilson continued to point and wave his semi-automatic handgun at officers. Again, Wilson had fired the first shot from his .380 handgun and officers now returned fire.

Officers fired 32 rounds at Wilson. A minimum of sixteen strikes on Wilson’s body were documented during the autopsy. There were also three groups of trauma areas to his body. The remaining rounds are believed to be in those trauma areas. Wilson was struck with a combination of .40-caliber handgun ammunition and .22-caliber rifle ammunition. Eight rounds of .40-caliber handgun rounds that missed Wilson were accounted for in the investigation. No shots were fired after Wilson fell to the ground.

Toxicology results from the autopsy showed Wilson had a blood alcohol level of .30, nearly four times the level to be legally impaired. Wilson had toxic levels of methamphetamine and morphine, and a variety of other drugs at varying levels, including methadone, amphetamine, and muscle relaxants in his system. The high levels of alcohol in combination with the toxic and other levels of drugs in Wilson’s system may account for the reason Wilson did not initially fall when shot, according to witness and officer statements. Wilson died at the scene. The cause of death was multiple gunshots.

Photo: Alan Ernesto Phillips

The area of South Market Street is a very busy, multiple-lane state highway. The shooting occurred at 12:22 hours, in the middle of lunch hour. Redding Police officers secured the crime scene, but not until several cars had already passed through the scene and near the body of Kenneth Wilson.

The facts of the investigation showed that Kenny Wilson was a wanted felon. He did have 10 active warrants out for his arrest, including one for armed robbery and burglary out of the Redding Police Department, and one for attempted robbery out of Shasta County Sheriff’s Office. The remaining warrants were for a variety of drug, assault, traffic, and failure to appear violations. Prior to the shooting, Wilson was believed to be armed with a handgun and was dangerous. Information had been obtained that Wilson would shoot any law enforcement officer whom he came in contact with. Wilson ran from law enforcement officers to avoid arrest, turned, and shot at them during the foot pursuit. Officers, in protection of their lives, safety and the public, shot Wilson. A .380-caliber handgun was located near Wilson’s right hand where he eventually fell to the ground after the shooting.

The investigation showed Wilson was under the influence of alcohol and a variety of narcotics, some at toxic levels. Wilson was under investigation by SINTF for drug-related offenses. Investigators found Wilson had 10.8 grams (nearly 1/2 ounce) of methamphetamine in his pants pocket. Drugs and a syringe were found along the route where Wilson ran from officers. Wilson had a significant criminal career, starting in 1988.

He had a long criminal history of alcohol and drug-related offenses, robbery, violence, and parole violations. He had prior commitments to state prison, one for armed robbery. The involved officers in this shooting were confronted with deadly force by Wilson when he fired a gun at the officers. In protection of their own lives and safety, and that of the public, officers had no choice but to return fire at Wilson and neutralize the situation. This was a tragic day for all those involved. Clearly, Kenneth Ray Wilson caused the use of lethal force.

The Redding Police Department and the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office made accommodations during this incident to the family and Native American community. The first being a procession of friends and family to follow the Coroner’s van back to the Coroner’s Office out of respect for the Indian burial rituals. The second being the Sheriff’s Office and Redding Police Department personnel allowed tribal members to conduct a ritual at the scene where Kenneth Wilson’s body had been, after the Coroner’s Office and Crime Scene Unit had completed their investigation at the scene, but prior to allowing the public and vehicle traffic to re-enter the South Market Street scene.

The taking of a life is never an option that law enforcement officers want to pursue, however, there are occasions when there is no other choice. On this day, law enforcement officers had no choice but to return fire to protect their lives and the community.

Tom Bosenko, Shasta County Sheriff-Coroner

-from press release

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