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‘I did what I was supposed to do’: Ambushed officer speaks about shooting, newly-released body camera footage

By Sarah Fili

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    OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) — It’s been nearly a year since Omaha Police Officer Tami Phillips was ambushed in her cruiser while responding to a call.

A jury recently found James Wilson guilty of attempted murder for the attack.

He’s scheduled to be sentenced in July.

“He shot at me 14 times. He shot until his gun was empty,” said Phillips.

On June 22, 2023, Phillips heard a radio call for a robbery. She ran the plate and went to the suspect’s home near 60th and Q streets, radioing for backup.

But before they could get there, she was ambushed.

“I saw him come into the driveway and I had to make a decision on if I was going to approach him or let him potentially get an advantage position against us,” Phillips said. “I made the decision to approach, and we exchange gunfire as soon as I pulled up.”

James Wilson opened fire on Philips. She returned fire and got out of her cruiser.

“You can hear it in my body cam video, where he’s actually still firing his gun as I’m running away from him to get cover,” she said.

Wilson eventually threw his empty gun at her.

“He went through 14 rounds and if he wouldn’t have run out, I don’t doubt that he would have kept going,” Phillips said.

Then, Phillips helped Wilson, calmly telling him an ambulance was on the way and applying pressure to his gunshot wound.

“Even though he just essentially tried to kill me, I have a duty to save his life as well,” Phillips said.

Phillips was only hit with a ricochet bullet, despite Wilson firing directly at her head.

“It went into my passenger side seat versus coming into my seat,” she said.

Her K9 partner Taz is okay too.

She says mentally, there are still emotions from that day.

She testified at Wilson’s trial but said she was ready to move on.

“I almost died. But at the same time, I’m OK. I’m safe. I knew my training kicked in. I did what I was supposed to do. There’s nothing else that I think I could have done. I don’t question myself. And, you know, he’s no longer able to potentially hurt anybody else,” Phillips said.

Doorbell video showed the encounter that sparked the call near 73rd and Crown Point. Wilson, a food delivery driver, slammed on the door of a home after getting a low tip, then pulled his gun on the homeowner when she confronted him.

Phillips said she was still processing that day but wanted to get back on the streets right away.

“I had no doubts on coming back. I absolutely love my job,” Phillips said.

And while every officer knows this is a possibility, they hope to never face it.

“It was definitely, after everything was said and done, it was a huge holy cow moment if you will,” Phillips said.

She hoped sharing her story showed there is a person behind the badge and the dangers they face are very real.

“I just hope people realize that, you know, we’re human, too. There is still a human element. I know that we are police officers. We do try to hold ourselves to a higher standard, but we are human,” she said.

Wilson will be sentenced in July.

He’s convicted of attempted second-degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, firing a gun at a vehicle, and terroristic threats.

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