Police Officer Sonny L. Kim | Cincinnati Police Department

Police Officer Sonny L. Kim
Police Officer Sonny L. Kim

Age: 48
Badge: P396
Served: 27½ years
December 13, 1987 to June 19, 2015

Sonny was born September 30, 1966 in South Korea and immigrated to the United States during 1973. He attended Carl Shurz High School in Chicago, graduating in 1984. He then attended Truman College in Chicago and then the University of Cincinnati until 1987.

While attending college, he worked at Baker’s Shoes in the Tri-County Mall. During January 1985 he took a position as a Security Officer at Makro in Evendale, then at Gold Circle on Ridge Road, and finally at Value City on Winston Avenue until 1987.

On December 13, 1987 Sonny joined the Cincinnati Police Division as a Police Recruit. He was promoted to Police Officer on May 1, 1988 and assigned to District 4. As was policy then, Officer Kim was rotated to District 2 on September 24, 1989.

During 1989, he was personally commended by a citizen for rapid response and professional action in apprehending a stabbing suspect with weapon in hand. Police Chief Lawrence E. Whalen commended him in 1990 for dedication and initiative resulting in the closures of 15 aggravated burglary cases.

During 1992, while off duty and observing suspects breaking into cars, Officer Kim tried to intervene and the suspects fired handguns at him. He returned fire, but neither he nor the suspects were wounded.

Another commendation came from Assistant Chief H. Bruce Knox in 1994 for peacefully negotiating with a man who barricaded himself in building. Police Chief Michael C. Snowden commended him in 1997 for keen observations and professionalism in taking charge of a potentially fatal/suicidal situation. Then another from Acting Police Chief Richard L. Janke in 2005 for rescuing a man who jumped from I-275 bridge. During 2013 he received the Department Award for Exemplary Conduct.

A martial arts expert, Officer Kim also owned the Japanese Karate-Do dojo on Mason Montgomery Road in Symmes Township. Some of the students there looked up to him like a father and attributed to him a change in their lives. At the end of every training session, the students would recite words Sensei Kim meant his students to always remember:

Seek perfection of character.
Be faithful. Endeavor. Respect others.
Refrain from violent behavior.”

Officer Kim was highly respected by his commanders, supervisors, peers, and the communities in which he lived and served. He was a success as a police officer, mentor, sensei, father, and husband. By June 2015, he had served his community 27½ years and earned 21 letters of appreciation and/or commendation.

Trepierre Hummons had no such aspirations. He was 21, a member of the Clutch Gang, and had already accumulated a criminal record involving Auto Theft, Aggravated Burglary, and Carrying Concealed Weapons. During the early morning hours of June 19, 2015 a Rape complaint was filed against him by his girlfriend. His life was a failure and he knew it.

Later on the 19th, about 8:55 a.m., Hummons posted on Facebook, “I love every last one of y’all to whoever has been in my life … You’re the real mvp.” He texted his friends with similar messages. At 9:03 a.m. and again at 9:10 a.m. he called 9-1-1 and reported a belligerent man with a gun at Whetsel Avenue and Roe Street. He gave the Primary Complaint Operator his own description and walked out of the house with a semiautomatic pistol.

Officer Kim, who was working an off day to increase police visibility, was dispatched.

Hummons’ mother, Khanita Maston, knew about her son’s problems with his girlfriend. They spoke, but she did not know about the 9-1-1 calls nor that he had a pistol in his waistband. He told her he was going out of the house to sit on the porch. Moments later, she decided to walk their dog and discovered that he was not on the porch. She spotted him on the street drinking from a jug and went to admonish him. She said, “let’s go home,” and linked her arm in his as if to escort him home.

About that time a Hamilton County Probation Officer known to both of them and who had been listening to his police radio pulled up and spoke to Maston and Hummons. He encouraged Hummons to go home.

Officer Kim arrived on the scene at 9:19 a.m. and immediately recognized the “suspect” by the description Hummons gave. The Probation Officer pulled forward to the corner.

Hummons pulled away from his mother and handed her his wallet. He then waved to Officer Kim in a “bring it on!” motion, beckoning him over to him as if he wanted to fight. Officer Kim got out of his car with a Tazer in hand. Maston stepped between the two men and told Officer Kim, “I’ll take him home.”

Hummons drew his pistol. Officer Kim dropped the Tazer and drew his pistol. Hummons immediately and repeatedly fired on Officer Kim, purposefully or unintentionally with his mother between him and Officer Kim. Officer Kim was struck in both arms and one shot entered his left side just below his ballistic vest.

Maston immediately went to Officer Kim on the ground to help him.

Hummons then engaged the Probation Officer who was at his car near the corner. Apparently out of ammunition, Hummons went to Officer Kim on the ground and wrestled from him his Smith and Wesson M&P 9mm semiautomatic pistol.

Cincinnati Specialist Tom Sandmann arrived on the scene at 9:26 a.m. and immediately took fire from Hummons before he stopped his car. Specialist Sandmann backpedaled to cover behind his car and delivered deliberate, well-aimed shots at Hummons, fatally wounding him.

Cincinnati Officers Bob Ahlers and Ron Fuller were next to arrive. They tore Officer Kim’s shirt and vest off and started CPR. Cincinnati Fire personnel took over CPR a few minutes later. But Officer Kim’s final wound had cause non-survivable damage to vital organs. He was likely deceased at that moment.

Officer Kim is survived by his wife, Jessica Kim, and three sons, Timothy Kim, Jacob Kim, and Joshua Kim. A visitation was held 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 25, 2015 at the Xavier University Cintas Center. Thousands of active and retired officers and police civilian employees, and citizens walked by the casket while his family looked on. Queen City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 69 services were held at 7 p.m.

Officer Kim’s funeral services were set for 11 a.m. on Friday, June 26, 2015 at the Cintas Center. More than 500 police cars and 200 motorcycles filled the XU campus parking lots and 8000 people attended the services. At 2:04 p.m. a procession of busses and the vehicles emptied from the lots to the Gate of Heaven Cemetery where, in a pouring rain, Officer Kim’s body was laid to rest.

If you have information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Director@Police-Museum.org.

© This narrative was revised on March 3, 2017 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Director. All rights are reserved to him and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.