Tom Diaz

Posts Tagged ‘Maurice Clemmons’

POLICE DEATHS DOWN BUT FATAL OFFICER SHOOTINGS UP — AMBUSH SHOOTINGS AND SURVIVAL LESSONS FROM LAKEWOOD

In bad manners, Crime, Guns, Police on December 29, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Vigil for Lakewood, WA, Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, and Officers Tina Griswold, 40, Greg Richards, 42, and Ronald Owens, 37

Law enforcement officer deaths in the line of duty have dropped to their lowest level in half a century.  But the trend of fatal ambush-style officer shootings is up.  This naturally has raised concern about officer survivability.

Details of the tragic ambush-execution of four officers in Lakewood (see below) underscore the unavoidable fact that there is no down time for law enforcement personnel today.

Eternal vigilance is the price of survival.

First, the trends from a National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund press release:

Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities 2009: A Tale of Two Trends

Total line-of-duty deaths drop to lowest level in 50 years; firearms-related killings rise 23 percent with five multiple-fatality shootings

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Fewer U.S. law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2009 than in any year in the past half century — an encouraging trend tempered by a disturbing increase in the number of officers who were killed by gunfire, many of them in brutal, ambush-style attacks.

As of December 28, 124 law enforcement officers had died in the line of duty from all causes, a 7 percent reduction from the 133 fatalities in 2008, according to preliminary data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF). The last time officer fatalities were this low was in 1959, when there were 108 line-of-duty deaths.

“This year’s overall reduction in law enforcement deaths was driven largely by a steep, 21 percent drop in the number of officers killed in traffic-related incidents,” reported NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd. “However, that bit of good news was overshadowed by an alarming surge in the number of officers killed by gunfire.” According to Mr. Floyd, 48 officers were shot and killed in 2009, compared to 39 in 2008, which represents a 23 percent increase.

More than 30 percent of this year’s fatal shootings — 15 in all — occurred in just five incidents in which more than one officer was gunned down by a single assailant. These multiple-fatality shootings took place in Lakewood, WA (four officers), Oakland, CA (four officers), Pittsburgh, PA (three officers), and Okaloosa County, FL, and Seminole County, OK (two officers each). The 15 officers killed in these multiple-death shootings were the most of any year since 1981, according to Mr. Floyd.

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The following is an analysis of the Lakewood (Washington) shootings.  (It is not part of the NLEOMF release.)  Fairly Civil received similar versions of this account from several sources and believes the following synthesis from multiple sources to be accurate.

These events are a tragic object lesson for law enforcement.  They should be an eye-opener for society at large about the risks of law enforcement and the lawlessness of some elements, including in this case not only the murderer, but the group of people who aided him before and after the shooting:

Analysis of Lakewood Ambush

Lakewood PD Officers Killed in Ambush

Location. The Forza Coffee shop in which the ambush took place was in a strip mall and owned by a retired Tacoma Police Department officer.  It was considered to be a safe place for officers on break or waiting to go on duty.

Department History and Officers.  The Lakewood Police Department was recently formed. Almost all of the deputies were hired from the Pierce County (Washington) Sheriff’s Office.  Most were sworn deputies, but had primarily worked the jail.

The Scene. All four officers had parked their marked patrol cars in front and were inside, in uniform, drinking coffee and preparing for their shift. They were sitting at a table with their laptop computers open, completing job related paperwork. The table at which they were working was about 15 feet from the check out register at the counter.  The officers were working with their heads down.

F

Felon Maurice Clemmons Had Long Record of Violence

The Shooter. The assassin in this case was Maurice Clemmons.  According to Wikipedia:

Prior to his alleged involvement in the shooting, Clemmons had at least five felony convictions in Arkansas and at least eight felony charges in Washington. His first incarceration began in 1989, at age 17. Facing sentences totaling 108 years in prison, the burglary sentences were reduced in 2000 by Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee to 47 years, which made him immediately eligible for parole. Clemmons was released in 2000.

Clemmons’s Parole. Huckabee’s explanation was reported in an Arkansas newspaper earlier this month:

Speaking at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock to promote his seventh book, A Simple Christmas, Huckabee said Clemmons would have received “a probated sentence, a $1,000 fine and 20 hours of community service” had he been an “upper-middle-class white kid” rather than a poor black teenager arrested for his first felony when he was 16 in 1989. After a months-long string of robberies and burglaries, as well as carrying a .25-caliber handgun on the Hall High School campus, Clemmons began serving his multiple sentences the next year.

A decade later, Huckabee, governor from 1998 to 2007, shortened Clemmons’ term in prison to 47 years, making possible his immediate parole. The Arkansas Parole Board agreed to release Clemmons not long afterward.

Making two of Clemmons longer sentences run consecutively instead of concurrently was an injustice, Huckabee said, one perpetrated systematically in Arkansas on the basis of a person’s skin color.

Deciding to shorten Clemmons’ prison term, he said, “was not so much based on forgiveness as justice.” “I made my decision on the information that I had,” Huckabee told an audience of 200, “not on the information that was to come.” On Nov. 29, Clemmons, 38, walked into a coffeehouse outside Seattle and killed four uniformed Lakewood, Wash., police officers as they prepared for their shift. One of them wounded Clemmons, whom Seattle police shot and killed two days later.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, December 15, 2009.

The Ambush. Clemmons entered the coffee shop, smiled, and acknowledged the two officers who were facing the entrance. The officers returned Clemmons’s  greeting.  Clemmons then went to the counter as if he were going to order food.

After stepping up to counter, Clemmons pulled a pistol from under his coat and took a couple of steps toward the table where the officers were seated.

At this point, Clemmons was about 12 feet from the officers.

He shot the first officer, facing him across the table, in the head, killing the officer instantly.

He then shot the officer closest to him (facing away), in the back of the head, also killing the victim instantly.

Clemmons then shot across table at the third officer and missed.  He fired a fourth shot, which struck the officer in the face, with instant fatal effect.

The fourth officer was the sergeant.  He stood, drew his weapon, and charged Clemmons.  The table was knocked over as the sergeant stood up.  He grabbed Clemmons by the coat and shot him twice.  The first round struck Clemmons in his mid-section and went “through and through.”  The second round struck keys in Clemmons’s front pocket, but nevertheless penetrated about 1.5 inches into his thigh.

Clemmons then raised his gun and shot the sergeant in the face.  The sergeant fell to the ground.  Clemmons knelt over his victim and fired two contact shots, one in each eye.   He then took the sergeant’s credit cards and duty weapon.

Clemmons did not rob the coffee shop, nor did he shoot at, hurt, or threaten anyone other than the four officers.

The entire incident lasted only 8 to 10 seconds — approximately 3-5 seconds for the first three shots and another 5-7 seconds of struggle between Clemmons and the sergeant.

Darcus Allen Was Alleged Getaway Driver and Accomplice

The immediate accomplice. An accomplice — alleged to be Darcus D. Allen — was waiting outside.   The Seattle Times reported on Allen’s background, which included time in the same prison as Clemmons:

Allen was sentenced to 25 years in prison for a 1990 double murder at a Little Rock liquor store. He was paroled in 2004.

Arkansas prison spokeswoman Dina Tyler says Allen and Clemmons never shared a cell, but lived in the same barracks – along with 50-100 other inmates – at various times during their imprisonment.

Clemmons got into the vehicle and the two left the area.

Tracking Clemmons and Other Accomplices. Federal agents tracked Clemmons by a specific “sophisticated technique” of investigation.  At least five more accomplices helped Clemmons before he was shot dead by a Seattle police officer.

Lessons learned. According to one account, the following are “lessons learned” from the Clemmons ambush:

Some lessons to learn from our fallen brothers.

1. Just because you are “off duty” or in a “safe” restaurant, keep your head up and your eyes and ears open.

2. Do not sit close to the register or other focal point (entrance doors, bathrooms, hallways, etc). Try to sit where you can scan the  area.

3. Leave devices that distract you, like laptops, etc. in the car.

4. Do your reports and other things that take your mind off your safety, at post or far away from the public.

5. Even at lunch or break, don’t let your guard down. You should always be in condition “yellow.”

6. Keep your distance.  Take those lateral steps or diagonal steps and move. It is a lot harder for the bad guy to shoot a moving target, let alone a lot of distance.

7. Each time you train, train as if your life depends on it. When the time comes, you will not arise to the occasion and be a hero, you will fall to the level of your training effort and perform at that level. While I do not think they could have done anything different after the contact, do your best at whatever training you attend. Lose the mentality of “It will never happen to me” and train as you wish to fight, fight like you train.

Maurice Clemmons Was Shot Dead By a Seattle Police Officer

TEXT OF CHARGES AGAINST PERSONS ALLEGED TO HAVE HELPED MAURICE CLEMMONS AFTER HE SHOT AND KILLED FOUR LAKEWOOD POLICE OFFICERS

In Crime on December 3, 2009 at 12:50 am

Complete text of the prosecutor’s document charging some of the person accused of helping Maurice Clemmons escape after he shot and killed four Lakewood, Washington police officers.

MARK LINDQUIST, declares under penalty of perjury:

That I am the Prosecuting Attorney of Pierce County and I am familiar with the multijurisdictional police investigation lead by the Pierce County Sheriff Department, Incident No. 09-333- 0363.

That the police reports and investigation and/or briefings with Pierce County Sheriff’s Detectives Benson, Kobel, Merod, Karr, Jimenez and LaLiberte provided the following information; That the police report and/or investigation provided me the following information;

That in Pierce County, Washington, on or about the 29th day of November, 2009, the defendants, EDDIE LEE DAVIS and DOUGLAS EDWARD DAVIS, did commit the crime of Rendering Criminal Assistance in the First Degree.

On November 29, 2009, at approximately 08:16 hours, Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Ammann responded to a report of a shooting at the Forza coffee shop at 11401 Steele Street South in unincorporated Pierce County. Deputy Ammann arrived and described seeing four Lakewood Police Officers who had been shot and were non-responsive.

Pierce County Detective Anderson contacted two employees of the Forza shop. The two employees had fled from the Forza shop and called 911. The first employee reported that there were four police officers in the shop when a black male entered the store. The employee said she greeted the black male as he entered and he had a blank look on his face. The male walked into the store and when he got near where officers were sitting, he pulled out a gun and started shooting toward the officers. The employee said she and the other employee fled through the back door of the business and left in a car. The two employees described the gunman as a black male, about 5’7″ to 5’10” wearing a black jacket and blue jeans.

The two employees drove away from the store and they drove past the front of the store to get to a nearby gas station to use the phone. As the Forza employees passed the front of the business and they saw the suspect “wrestling” or “struggling” with the one of the officers in the doorway. The Forza employees stopped near the intersection of 112th Street and Steele and borrowed a phone to call 911. While the employees were contacting 911, they saw a male who looked like the gunman walking on foot. That man walked to a white pickup truck that was parked at a car wash near the intersection of 112th Street and Steele Street. A male was driving the truck and the black male suspect got into the passenger side and the truck left at a high rate of speed.

A short time later, a similar vehicle was located parked unoccupied in a parking lot in the 13300 block of Pacific Avenue South. The vehicle is registered to a business with an address in the 1100 block of 131st Street South. Detective Benson reports that the residential property at that address is owned by Maurice Clemmons. During a search of the vehicle, detectives located what appeared to be blood on an arm rest inside the vehicle. The substance was tested and presumptively found to be blood.

Detective Benson reports that the Washington State Patrol and Pierce County Sheriff’s Department examined the crime scene and confirmed there were four Lakewood Police Officers who appeared to have been shot and were deceased. The deceased officers were identified as Lakewood Police Officers Mark Renninger, Tina Griswold, Greg Richards, and Ronnie Owens. The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office has reported that Dr. Menchel has conducted examination of the bodies and has determined that Officer Richards died of a gunshot wound to the head, Officer Owens died of a gunshot wound to the neck, Officer Griswold died of a gunshot wound to the head, and Officer Renninger died of a gunshot wound to the head.

There was a .38 caliber revolver found at the scene containing six spent shell casings. The revolver does not appear to be associated with any of the deceased officers. There was a 9 mm handgun at the scene and one spent 9 mm casing at the scene. The 9 mm handgun was reported stolen from Seattle and is not associated with any of the deceased officers. There were two spent shell casings from a .40 caliber Glock handgun at the scene, and a .40 caliber Glock handgun associated with one of the officers was not located at the scene and is believed to have been taken by the defendant.

Detectives showed a montage of six photographs to the two Forza employees that included a photograph of the defendant. Detective Merod reports that one employee excluded five of the people depicted in the photographs and she said the sixth photograph, the one depicting Maurice Clemmons looked the most like the gunman; the employee reported that on a scale of 1-10, 10 being very certain of the identification, she felt her confidence level of the identification was a seven. The second employee was not able to identify anyone in the photographs.

Pierce County deputies and detectives continued following up on information they received throughout the day and noted Maurice Clemmons was associated with an address in Seattle in the 3800 block of East Superior Street. Seattle Police Officers arrived in the area and saw a black male on foot near a residence. The officers also saw a small white vehicle leaving the area and they conducted a traffic stop and contacted the female driver of the vehicle.

That female driver was identified as a Seattle resident who later told Detectives Kobel and Karr that Clemmons was a friend of hers. She admitted that she picked him up in a Seattle parking lot and took him to her residence. She said Clemmons told her he had killed a police officer or officers in a Tacoma coffee shop. The woman took Clemmons to her residence, bought medical supplies, helped treat a gunshot wound to his torso; he changed clothes, washed and dried a load of laundry and she dropped him off in the area of 3800 East Superior Street. When Clemmons got out of the car, and the female drove away and was stopped by Seattle Police officers.

Pierce County Detectives Kobel and Karr searched her car and residence and located a piece of clothing that has a hole in the front and appears to have a stain pattern consistent with a bleeding wound. The detectives also located evidence of gauze and bandage material and peroxide.

Residents at a house located in the 3800 block of East Superior Street drove to the Seattle Police precinct office and reported that they had been contacted by Maurice Clemmons, who is known to them.

Clemmons had telephoned them and said he needed a place to stay, and they initially agreed to allow him to stay with them. Clemmons told the residents he was armed with a gun. The residents then talked to Clemmons relatives in Algona/Pacific area and learned that Clemmons had been shot and he said he had shot some police officers in Tacoma. The East Superior Street residents vacated their house before Clemmons arrived and they drove to the police precinct and reported this information.

Law enforcement officers developed information that Clemmons may be related to an Auburn address. In the late afternoon of November 30, 2009, a vehicle with four occupants left that address. Officers stopped the vehicle and identified three of the occupants as Douglas Davis, Eddie Davis, and Rickey Hinton. Detectives interviewed Hinton who reported that he is a half brother to Clemmons and they live in separate residences on the same property at 774 132nd Street S. Hinton reported that on Saturday night Clemmons asked Hinton to give him the keys to the white pick up truck, which Clemmons said he needed the next morning. Hinton gave Clemmons the keys to the truck. Hinton said that early Sunday morning he was out in the yard at his residence and Clemmons appeared on foot. Clemmons had been shot and said the cops had shot him. Clemmons awoke Douglas Davis and Eddie Davis who were sleeping in one of the residences on the property. Hinton threw the car keys to a white Pontiac to Eddie and told Eddie and Douglas to use the Pontiac to get Clemmons out of there. Hinton gave his own cell phone to his 12 year old son or grandson, and told the child to start deleting Clemmons’ phone numbers from his cell phone.

Eddie and Douglas Davis were separately interviewed by detectives. The interviews establish that Eddie and Douglas Davis left the address at 774 132nd Street South on Sunday morning in the white Pontiac with the wounded Clemmons in the back seat. Clemmons told them he had been shot by police and he had shot some police officers. Both reported that Clemmons said he had “taken care of his business.” Douglas and Eddie Davis both understood this to mean that he had shot or killed police officers. Douglas and Eddie Davis both reported that on Saturday night, in the presence of Hinton, Clemmons showed them two handguns and told them he was going to shoot police. While in the car northbound, Clemmons asked Douglas to make some phone calls for him and Douglas made at least two calls to a number provided by Clemmons. Douglas, Eddie and Clemmons arrived at a residence in the Algona/Pacific area and went into the residence. A female relative of Clemmons lives at that address. Inside the residence, Douglas and the female relative helped Clemmons clean and treat a gunshot wound to his torso. Clemmons changed clothes and put his own clothing into a bag.

From the Algona/Pacific address, Clemmons got into a car driven by the female relative and Eddie and Douglas got back into the Pontiac. The two cars then drove to the Auburn Super Mall parking lot and met up with a third vehicle, a small white car, driven by a female. Clemmons spoke briefly to the female driver and then all three cars drove to an apartment complex where Clemmons got into the small white car with the female driver and then left the area.

On December 1, 2009, Maurice Clemmons was shot and killed by a Seattle Police Officer.

I DECLARE UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY UNDER THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON THAT THE FOREGOING IS TRUE AND CORRECT.

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