BADGE 864, ID 1687
SDPD 08/23/1974 - 07/03/1990
12/20/1944 - 03/03/2013
City Undercover Officer Is Put on Suspension : Law Enforcement: A 16-year police veteran allegedly stole money during a drug raid, and illegal drugs reportedly were found in his office desk.


June 9, 1990

A longtime San Diego police officer, described as an undercover Serpico-type cop who posed as a heroin addict while working as a detective in the department’s narcotics division, was suspended without pay this week for allegedly stealing money during a drug raid, according to well-placed sources.

The sources also said that Wilmer O. Nelson, a 16-year police veteran, was allegedly under the influence of drugs while on duty, and that supervisors reportedly found illegal drugs hidden in his desk at police headquarters.

They said Nelson, 45, was handcuffed and taken into custody Tuesday, then suspended without pay for 30 days, during which time authorities will review the case to determine whether he should be disciplined or prosecuted.

Nelson did not return a telephone call to his home Friday, and police supervisors, including department spokesmen Cmdr. Larry Gore and Lt. Greg Clark, declined to discuss the matter.

“I can’t confirm or even discuss personnel matters,” Gore said. “We’re prohibited by law from doing that.”

Attorney Everett Bobbitt, who said he has been asked to represent Nelson, confirmed that police are investigating Nelson’s conduct. But the lawyer declined to discuss details of the case. “We will wait and see what the district attorney decides to do,” Bobbitt said.

Police officials said Nelson had been working in the prestigious narcotics division for about two years, mostly in an undercover capacity. He wore his gray-brown hair long and sometimes tied in a pony tail, sported tattoos and sometimes wore a goatee and mustache.

Sources said that, although he fit the part of a drug addict perfectly, he also was one of those officers who had a hard time juggling with dual roles of being a police officer and interacting with drug dealers and street criminals.

“He is one of these people we always get concerned about that goes undercover,” said one source. “He is susceptible to confusing the roles he plays. If you looked at him, you’d never guess he was a cop. He looks absolutely like a heroin addict.”

As examples, the sources said Nelson told them he once was walking on a downtown street when two drug dealers fought over which one of them would get to solicit him for a drug buy. At other times, the sources said, Nelson would complain about having to come to work at police headquarters.

“He was so involved in what he was doing that he used to joke about how he looked and felt more like a criminal than he did a cop,” said one source.

But a third source defended Nelson’s work as a police detective.

“He’s been around here for quite a while,” said the source, a police supervisor. “All this is out of character as far as I’m concerned.”

The sources gave this description of the events surrounding Nelson’s suspension:

Police child-abuse detectives were serving a search warrant Tuesday at a home in the 3400 block of 60th Street when they discovered a quantity of drugs inside the residence. Because of the drugs, the police called for assistance from the narcotics division, and Nelson was one of the officers who responded.

Inside the home, a sergeant noticed Nelson stuffing cash into his pocket. When the sergeant asked what he was doing, Nelson went to another room in the house and dumped the money.

But he was handcuffed and taken to headquarters, and, when supervisors unlocked his desk, they found methamphetamines, marijuana and other illegal drugs.

Nelson was given blood and urine tests, and, after a police expert examined his eyes, it was allegedly determined that he was under the influence of drugs at that time, sources said.

Nelson has not been charged with any crime, but police are continuing to investigate.