The night Officer Bill Bean died, Tuesday, Feb. 9, his brother Brandon and his mother were standing outside the officer's home frantically trying to get information about Bean's condition after learning about a shooting incident. Brandon said, "I turned and looked at the sky and I saw a falling star. One that burned brightly and streaked across the sky. That is my brother. he will burn brightly for eternity."
Bean died that night, fatally shot during a traffic stop. He was trying to talk to a "wanted subject" when he was gunned down. He was flown to UC Davis Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Deputy Chief Albert Najera said that Bean had been wearing "body armor" but a bullet entered through an arm hole and hit him behind his left shoulder.
The incident began when Bean and his partner, Officer David Hogge, spotted a man they were looking for driving alone. They signaled the driver to pull over. The driver did pull over briefly but then drove off. He continued along at about 25 mph with the police car, being driven by Hogge, close behind. Larry Gibbs, deputy chief of investigations, stated that a short time later, the driver pulled over for a second time.
Hogge stopped the police cruiser, and Bean got out of the passenger side and walked toward the car. At that point the driver started firing and Bean was hit, Gibbs reported. Hogge returned fire and tried to chase the suspect on foot.
More than five hours after the shooting, police arrested Dundell Wright, 35, on suspicion of homicide. He is a parolee facing a return trip to prison because of a parole violation. Police found Dundell under an air-conditioning unit in the backyard of a house near the incident. A 9 mm pistol believed to be the weapon used in the shooting was found nearby.
Approximately 5,000 fellow officers, friends and state and local dignitaries crowded into the Trinity Life Center on Tuesday, Feb. 16, for Bean's funeral service.
The service, which was projected at two hours, but ran more than three hours, was punctuated by the sorrowful cry of bagpipes and a bugler who played "Amazing Grace."
Gov. Gray Davis called Bean "a genuine American hero," and Sacramento Mayor Joe Serna Jr. offered his condolences as they presented flags to Bean's parents.
Bean was described by speakers as an eager and determined young man who doggedly pursued his goals, eventually winning over those around him.
Officer Lloyd Davis said of his colleague, "Super nice guy. You couldn't help but like him . . . He was very energetic."
Deputy Chief Albert Najera recalled that Bean had been a standout athlete since his days at Colfax High School. He was a starter for the Police Department at free safety in this year's Pig Bowl, his fourth consecutive appearance.
The coach of the police team in the annual football competition, Dave Hoskins, said "He never came off the field on defense. His dream was to play college football, and this past summer he achieved his dream by playing for the Wolverines and earning All-Bay Valley Conference honors.
Sierra Coach Rex Chappell stated, "Bean was an outstanding person. He is one of those people that made it fun to coach. He is an inspiration to a lot of our players. This is an extremely hard situation."
Bean, along with being a police officer, was a full-time student at Sierra College.
Bean's mother, Kim Toms of Colfax, sang hymns and told the congregation, "Thank you, everyone, for loving my son. He loved you.
"His friends are here now. they're saying they didn't know anybody who had a bigger heart. He always had a smile, always had a positive attitude and he loved kids," she stated.
She said later, "It means that Bill didn't die in vain." He was interested in "the potential of everybody's son . . . I'm awfully proud, of course: Going into the police department and serving America - what more could you ask?"
In 1989 Bean graduated from Colfax High School where he lettered in three varsity sports and later coached football. He went to West Point but was unable to stay long because of asthma. He returned home and enrolled in UC, Davis, where he studied and played football for one year.
Bean joined the Placer County Sheriff's Department in May 1991 and stayed until April 1995, when he joined the Sacramento Police Department.
Bean is survived by his mother, Kim Toms; father, Bill Bean Sr.; brothers, Chris and Brandon Bean; stepmother, Pam Bean; stepfather, Nick Toms; fiancee, Carrie Heimann; and three stepsisters.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Police Athletic League, 3520 Fifth Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95817.
The following poem was written for Officer Bean
by friend Kathie Leon #380,
Sacramento Police Department
In Memory of Bill Bean
On February 9, 1999 Bill Bean once again put his life on the line.
None of us knew it would be for the last time.
At times in blue jeans and a T-shirt, other times in a uniform of blue,
Often a war on the streets but it was what he loved to do.
His partner that night was more than a fellow officer; he was also a friend.
A person Bill respected and on whom he knew he could depend.
Bill never saw it coming; he hadn't the chance to get far,
A bullet screamed through a window at the rear of the car.
Fellow officers from everywhere around,
Rushed to the call of an Officer Down.
As his family members wept at his front door.
All of us were waiting to hear something more.
Services for Bill not only touched officers but others Countrywide.
They lined our streets and freeways, bidding their final good-bye.
Bill was a fun, kind and friendly man,
He made you feel welcome and important no matter where you might stand.
He gave his heart and did much more then many of us ever would.
He touched lives and made a difference with some, whom no one else could.
As we look now to the Heaven's up in the sky,
We thank God for the time he allowed us with Bill at our side.
With are hearts still heavy and tears fresh in our eyes
We can't help but to ask why another officer had to die.
We pray for his family, friends and fellow officers at the end of each day.
We cherish Bill's memories and will never forget the ultimate price that he paid.
Kathie Leon #380, Sacramento Police Department