Milwaukee police officer Peter Jerving killed trying to arrest robbery suspect Terrell Thompson (2024)

A Milwaukee police officer was shot and killed early Tuesday while trying to arrest a robbery suspect who hours earlier had been sentenced to probation in a misdemeanor hit-and-run case.

Two officers chased after the 19-year-old man and exchanged gunfire with him, Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said. The 19-year-old also died from gunshot wounds, but it was unclear early Tuesday if they were self-inflicted or from the officers, according to the chief.

Later Tuesday, Norman identified the fallen officer as Peter Jerving, a 37-year-old with four years of service with Milwaukee police. Norman said "his courage in the line of duty should be commended."

Milwaukee police officer Peter Jerving killed trying to arrest robbery suspect Terrell Thompson (1)

"Milwaukee, our hearts are heavy," Norman said, while growing emotional during a brief press conference near the scene. "One of our finest, who put on that uniform, put on that badge, went into work last night and paid the ultimate sacrifice for protecting our community.

"Milwaukee, we need your prayers, we need your support. To the men and women of the Milwaukee Police Department, I see you. I am proud of you. The work you do does not go unnoticed. This is a time to lean in and do the work in our community. The violence needs to stop."

Jerving, who worked out of Police District 4,was recognized by the department in Novemberwith a life-saving award. He and another officer saw a car crash last summer and found the driver suffering from a gunshot wound. The two officers provided care to the wounded driver and Jerving used a fire extinguisher to put out flames in the victim's car, a situation Norman described as "extremely dangerous."

He was a lifelong resident of Milwaukee and wanted to become a police officer since the age of 13, Norman said.

Milwaukee police officer Peter Jerving killed trying to arrest robbery suspect Terrell Thompson (2)

Jerving "dedicated his life to serving the great people of our city.To his last breath, Peter fulfilled that goal," according to a statement from the officer's family that was read by George Papachristou, the Milwaukee Police Department's chaplain.

Jerving will be missed by his parents, brothers and sisters, friends, and brothers and sisters in the Milwaukee police, firefighter and rescue community,Papachristou said.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said Jerving represented “the very definition of bravery.”

“Peter Jerving is a name that we will remember in Milwaukee and a name that we will honor in Milwaukee,” he said.

Milwaukee police officer Peter Jerving killed trying to arrest robbery suspect Terrell Thompson (3)

What police say led up to the shooting

Norman said "multiple officers" from District Four, on the city’s northwest side, were checking for a robbery suspect about 1:15 a.m. Tuesday in the 2700 block of South 14th Street.

The robbery had been reported at about 11:25 p.m. Monday on West Good Hope Road near the intersection of North Teutonia Avenue.

On the south side, officers encountered the 19-year-old man who ignored their orders and ran away, Norman said.

One officer caught up with the man, a struggle ensued and the man fired a handgun, hitting a second officer who was running to help, according to Norman, the chief, and Andrew Wagner, the president of the Milwaukee Police Association, the union representing rank-and-file officers

That second officer, who was wounded, returned fire and later died from his injuries at the hospital, Norman said.

The information released early Tuesday was preliminary. The investigation is being led by the Brookfield Police Department.

Suspect had been sentenced Monday on two hit-and-run cases

The suspect in the officer’s shooting is Terrell I. Thompson, of Milwaukee, Norman confirmed Tuesday afternoon.

Thompson's family also confirmed the information to the Journal Sentinel later Tuesday, with his mother saying she was still in shock at the news.

Thompson had just been in court Monday morning for sentencing on two misdemeanor hit-and-run cases, one of which was dismissed in a plea agreement. Each charge had carried a maximum penalty of six months in jail.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Christopher Dee sentenced Thompson to four months in the House of Correction, but then stayed, or postponed, that sentence for a year of probation instead. That meant Thompson would only serve the jail time if he failed on probation.

In the first case, a man called Brown Deer police in January 2021 after his car was hit by a Mercury that ran a red light at North Sherman Boulevard and West Bradley Road, according to court records.

The man said he saw a man run away from the crash with a black backpack. While talking with the officer, a woman approached and said she was Thompson’s mother and said he had fled the scene because he was afraid of a man chasing him and wanted to go to the hospital, the complaint says.

Six months later, Thompson again was arrested in a hit-and-run crash. A woman called Milwaukee police to say an SUV with no license plates had crashed into her at North Sherman Boulevard and West Congress Street. She followed the SUV and saw it get into another crash near North 49th Street and West Hope Avenue.

The SUV pulled over on West Congress Street and spoke with the woman who had been following him, identifying himself as “Terrell” and giving her a phone number, according to a criminal complaint.

Officers found the damaged SUV nearby and arrested Thompson, who provided the same number that was given to the female driver, the complaint says. Thompson was charged with both cases in July 2021.

The Journal Sentinel reached out to Dee, the judge who sentenced Thompson. The judge's clerk said he was on the record hearing other cases and was not making comments at this time. The Journal Sentinel also left a message for Thompson's attorney in the case.

Last year, Thompson also was the subject of a temporary restraining order. A woman said he was harassing her with repeated texts and phone calls, threatening to kill her and sending her photos of his gun and a gun owned by his mother, according to court records.

A temporary restraining order was granted but a judge dismissed the request for a long-term restraining order after the woman did not appear in court for the hearing.

Thompson's mother, Tamera Brown, told the Journal Sentinel Tuesday she was still in disbelief about learning what happened to her son.

She said she spoke to her son Monday after he received his probation sentence and he seemed to take it in stride. She said she was not aware of any other personal issues he might have been facing.

“He seemed ok with it,” Brown said. “He was just going to get through with it. It was only 12 months, so he said he was just going to knock it out and stay out of trouble.”

Brown said police have given her little information about what happened, other than the fact that a “shootout” was involved. She said she does not think her son would take his own life and was worried about the level of emergency care her son received after the shooting.

Brown said Thompson has four siblings, attended John Marshall High School and went church with his family. She said she knew him as a kid who loved his family.

'These two officers acted heroically': Officials, public react

On Tuesday, many public officials praised the officer and offered their support.

“I think these two officers acted heroically," Wagner said. "They were faced with an armed individual that they tried to take into custody."

Milwaukee police officer Peter Jerving killed trying to arrest robbery suspect Terrell Thompson (5)

Gov. Tony Evers released a statement Tuesday, saying he and his wife were “praying for the officer's family, colleagues, the department, and the entire city of Milwaukee mourning yet another tragic loss due to gun violence.”

At the news conference early Tuesday, Norman was joined Johnson and Common Council President Jose Perez. They expressed condolences to the family and coworkers of the officer, but emphasized the role that average community members play in public safety.

"It’s on all of us to make sure that individuals who are out there, who would cause incidents like this – death, harm and destruction – that we keep an eye on them, that we inform them that they should put their guns down," Johnson said. "We need you to speak up, we need you to be engaged."

Milwaukee police officer Peter Jerving killed trying to arrest robbery suspect Terrell Thompson (6)

Perez, who lives within walking distance of the shooting scene, said the neighborhoods nearby are filled with hard-working residents.

"You’re going to hear this message often: it’s up to all of us," he said. "Every one of us. Priests, pastors, fathers, mothers. We need to continue to come together. We can do better. We deserve better and it’s up to us. We need peace in our community."

The neighborhood where the shooting occurred does have residents who care deeply about their homes, like Esperanza Gutierrez.

Gutierrez has lived in Milwaukee for 62 years and owned her home for nearly 30. At first, she thought the sirens and helicopter she heard early Tuesday came from a nearby hospital. She later learned that an officer had been shot just blocks away.

“I feel like I’m living in a warzone,” she said.

The longtime resident said she's grown used to seeing violence unfold in her neighborhood, but she tries to do small things every day, like tending to her garden, to provide a positive presence.

“I’m so blessed that nothing has ever happened to me or my family,” she said.

Fifth line of duty death in Milwaukee since 2018

The shooting is the Police Department's first death in the line of duty since four officers died in such a manner between 2018 and 2019.

In June 2018, Officer Charles G. Irvine Jr., 23, was killed in a crash during a car chase on Milwaukee's northwest side.

A month later, Officer Michael Michalski, 52, was shot and killed while trying to arrest a man wanted on drug and domestic violence offenses.

Their deaths were the department's first in the line of duty since 1996.

In February 2019, Officer Matthew Rittner, 35, was shot and killed while the department's Tactical Enforcement Unit attempted to serve a search warrant for an investigation involving the sale of firearms and drugs.

That same year, Officer Mark Lentz, 56, died from injuries he suffered from a 2017 incident in which his police motorcycle was struck by a vehicle from behind as he attempted to stop another car.

Also in 2019, Officer Kou Her, 27, was off-duty but on his way home from work when a drunk driver crashed into his car, killing him."

More:Milwaukee police officer shot and killed Tuesday is the fifth line of duty death in the city since 2018

Mike De Sisti, Daniel Bice, Mary Spicuzza, Alison Dirr and Jessica Rodriguez of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated when Officer Michael Michalski died. He was killed in July 2018.

Contact Elliot Hughes 414-704-8958. Follow him on Twitter@elliothughes12.

Milwaukee police officer Peter Jerving killed trying to arrest robbery suspect Terrell Thompson (2024)
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