13 December 2009

washington state: 'gunman' executes 4 police officers

sunday 29 november 2009

note: that sunday morning we happened to be -- for want of better words -- in the right place at the right time to observe the seattle media reports of this shocking and horrific crime as it unfolded. we feel bad for everyone involved. especially, those who lost their life and wish it wouldnt have happened.

much of this post consists of notes we made from sunday morning (29 nov) through friday 04 december. if it doesnt make any sense -- its because this crime is senseless. nevertheless, there should be enough information here for you to start to figure it out for yourself.

one other thing...although we didnt necessarily agree with everything pierce county sheriff's office public information officer, detective sergeant ed troyer said or the way he said it, you have to admire him for doing such a tremendous job getting the police departments word out.

lakewood police independent guild blog: "stories of our fallen"
king tv live breaking news clip
sunday morning 29 november 2009
length 12:37
two gunmen; one black one white 'execute' four police officers
from the lakewood, pierce county, washington
police department
while they sat in a cafe
"this was a targeted, selected, ambush. four officers inside the coffee shop working on their computers, marked cars in the parking lot, baristas were inside and customers, the only people hit were law enforcement officers. thats what happened" ~ det. sgt. ed troyer, pierce county sheriff's office from the scene.

vid playlist
later that evening det. troyer responding to the press said that "we have no sense of motive, we can tell you that two of them was just flat executed sitting, writing reports."

no doubt these are perilous times we're living. sunday morning in lakewood, washington, these lakewood cops (king tv first reported from their website five cops. four men and a woman although this could have been a typo. nevertheless, here's a .pdf of their website text then) three men and a woman were sitting around in the forza coffee company café at 11401 steele street south preparing to start their shift, when in walks in (it was first reported) two gunmen one white one black who open fire on the cops killing four of them before its believed they could return fire.

oddly, this comes less than a month from the halloween murder of seattle police officer tim brenton. the police did arrest a suspect in that case though, 41 year old christopher monfort.

in the king tv breaking news clip king 5's reporter drew mikkelsen, reported initially that there four officers were sitting in the cafe forza when someone walked in and opened fire, shooting and killing all four officers. baristas and customers werent hit or targeted at all.

the police were looking for two males one black and one white in an unidentified car. they expect to recover surveillance cam footage from the other stores around to help see what happened.

back in the studio king 5's jim forman, seems to be intent on instilling fear and anger in the cops. "in some cities, four officers cant sit in a coffee shop in uniform. it's just not done, because they've had such terrible incidents." then he gives some vague example of a policeman killed in philadelphia who was walking into a dunkin-donuts. "so police are apparently targets wherever they are sitting and today for whatever reason around eight-thirty this morning at the cafe forza there somebody walked in and unloaded their rage in a gun at four police officers." what? is the media trying to make the cops fearful of congregating in groups in public. are they trying to put a buzz in some crazy persons head into thinking groups of cops are good targets?

anyway, the next time the media catches up to det. troyer (vid one in the playlist) is on the road. he said they had been called out on a hoax. someone had phoned in a confession to the shooting but turned out he was trying to impress his girlfriend. in this presser det. troyer reveals that they believe that the shooter (id still unknown or so he said) had in fact been involved in a struggle with one of the officers. they believe the cop shot the suspect "in the trunk" and likely mortally wounded him.

the next time the media caught up to det. troyer again was apparently back at the crime scene later that evening after dark. thats when we first learn that the police have a person of interest: maurice clemmons, aged 37, date of birth 06 february 1972. det. troyer said that clemmons is a person of interest because "of some past run-ins with law enforcement and some evidence that we believe that he was here and we want to know why he was here."

det. troyer also complains about arkansas letting clemmons out of prison.

a reporter points out that the police were showing around a flyer with maurice clemmons's name on it to customers at the ampm convenience store [11109 s steele st] as early as 3:30 pm.

on the sunday night late news, drew mikkelsen reported that there were two baritsas and two customers in the cafe at the time of the shootings. none of them were harmed. curiously, none of the witnesses including the baristas have been interviewed by the media to give an eyewitness account of what they saw happen.

the next day (monday) the seattle times posts a mysterious interview of humberto navarrette who says that during the shooting, he was going into the ampm store to buy a pack of smokes where he spoke to two female witnesses, baristas from the farza coffee company cafe who had fled there to summon help. they tell him that as they drove past the store it looked like one of the officers was in a struggle with the suspect.

kiro's investigative reporter, chris halsne reported sunday night, that clemmons was a "career criminal" who should have been sitting in an arkansas prison. halsne said he learned that clemmons had been set free after gaining clemency from the huckster.

kiro also reported that clemmons abandoned truck ( a white chevrolet or gmc pickup) was found by the scene in a nearby parking lot.

king tv also reported on the huckster's granting clemency to clemmons. they showed a few seconds of footage of clemmons who they had interviewed last year after his house caught fire from a fireworks accident.

king tv gave some background to the officers. between the four officers they left behind nine children.

monday morning clemmons was still nowhere to be found. overnight the police had searched and then cleared a house in what they described as an 11 hour standoff in the leschi neighborhood. det. troyer who joined king tv by phone said that they know that clemmons suffered a gunshot wound. indeed late into the night seattle media reported that clemmons was likely laying dead somewhere from his wound.

around mid morning city of lakewood police chief bret farrar gave held a news conference where he said that all four officers where original members from when the police department was formed only five years ago in 2004.

in one part that will be remembered for a long time chief farrar says that hes been asked over and over is "how is everybody doing?" chief farrar then raised his arm to present the department that had gathered around him and said "this is how they are doing. they're here, they're doing their jobs, they're working hard, they're dealing with their loss but they're here for the citizens, we're here to carry on. this is what we do and this is where we're good. in the face of adversity is where we triumph."

at noon monday the media reported that the police were chasing down every single tip that they've gotten in the search for maurice clemmons. king tv's tim robinson was at the university of washington where police were working several reports of suspicious individuals.

monday evening king tv's glenn farley says he's near the corner of ranier ave s and renton ave not far from the renton airport. police were conducting an operation in renton. det. troyer is reported to have told them that it was one of many such operations going on. police followed up tips in seattle, leschi, the u district and beacon hill and i-90 at exit 45.

police also investigated a lot of blood found on a bench in cowan park.

early tuesday morning det. troyer held another press conference to announce that clemmons was dead. shot by a seattle patrolman. over night they had also arrested three people for rendering criminal assistance. they also arrested someone who they believe drove clemmons off in the get-a-way vehicle (the white pickup truck) from the crime scene. they are also expecting to arrest some of clemmons family members who aided-and-abetted in his get away.

the gun recovered from the suspect was taken from one of the lakewood officers after he was killed. clemmons also had the tell-tell gunshot wound.

a spokesman from the seattle police department said that the officer who shot and killed clemmons is a seven year veteran assigned to the south precinct. he works the night shift . right now the policeman will be reassigned and their will be an inquest review board per routine.

the patrolman later identified by the media as benjamin l. kelly. he was on a routine patrol when he came across a car with its engine idling and hood up parked at the side of the road. patrolman kelly realized that the car an acura integra had just been reported stolen.

according to the official story, as he was investigating the stolen car, he detected some motion behind him, he turned to look and recognized the person who was approaching him as the lakewood suspect. kelly ordered clemmons to put his hands in the air, when clemmons didnt and reportedly tried to run around the car, kelly fired hitting him at least twice.
"when you help a criminal, you become a criminal"
~ pierce county prosecuting attorney, mark lindquist
wednesday morning kiro posted the declaration for determination for probable cause for rendering criminal assistance in the first degree [our copy three page .pdf 60 kb] against eddie lee davis and douglas edward davis.

from it we learn that the white pickup truck shown in several media reports being towed and at first reported registered to clemmons and being near the crime scene -- that according to the baristas was the truck they observed parked at a nearby carwash that clemmons walked up to and got in the passenger side which then fled the area at a high rate of speed.
source: mapquest driving directions
11401 steele s tacoma, wa 98444-1436 to 13300 pacific ave s tacoma, wa 98444-4864

in the declaration it says that the police found the white truck a short time later at an address that according to mapquest is around 2 1/2 miles from the crime scene. mapquest estimates the driving time as six minutes.

the truck is registered to a business thats address is in the 1100 block of 131st street south. the property is owned by maurice clemmons. the distance from where the pickup truck was found to the 131st street south property is about one mile.

although the declaration doesnt say, it was probably pretty easy for the cops to locate a drivers license or mug shot photo of clemmons after they got a name from the truck registration. this is probably the reason they had his picture to place in a photo array so quickly earlier -- like the reporter was asking about.

in the declaration, the states attorney, mark lindquist, doesnt give a precise timeline of how clemmons got from point a to b and c, etc but does believe that he has enough evidence to link them to helping clemmons at least for part of the day sunday.

back at the crime scene the police find a .38 caliber revolver with six spent shell casings and a nine millimeter handgun and one spent 9mm shell casing.

both guns were believed to have been used by clemmons. a side arm from one of the policemen is missing.: a .40 caliber glock. the police believe that clemmons threw down his weapons, picking up one of the dead officers.

the pierce county medical examiner reported that officers griswold, richards and renninger all died from a gunshot to the head -- while officer owens died from a gunshot wound to the neck. this account from the news tribune says that it was officer greg richards who struggled with and shot clemmons in the torso before being shot in the head.

as of wednesday night six have been arrested for what the police believe were their roles in aiding-and-abetting clemmons evasion.
(1) darkus dewayne allen the suspected get-a-way driver. 4-counts rendering criminal assistance 1; 1-count murder 1, 1-count false statements, 1-count driving without a valid operators license, 1-count fugitive - fugitive from another state.

(2) rickey hinton supposedly clemmons half-brother. 4-counts rendering criminal assistance 1

(3) eddie lee davis 1-count of rendering criminal assistance 1 and probation hold

(4) douglas edward davis 1-count of rendering criminal assistance 1
- both accused of driving clemmons while he was on the run

(5) quiana maylea williams 4-counts rendering criminal assistance 1 (driver of white car)

(6) letricia nelson 4-counts rendering criminal assistance 1

on friday #7 clemmons sister latanya kaye clemmons 4-counts rendering criminal assistance 1, 1-count murder 1
~source: pierce county, washington corrections jail roster
later it was revealed that the object of the 11 hour standoff in the leschi neighborhood [3800 block of east superior street] was the home and property of clemmons aunt, chrisceda clemmons. ms. clemmons told kiro that on sunday she received a telephone call from maurice who was enroute to her home, who told her that he had murdered four police officers and that he needed a place to hide and to rest.

ms. clemmons took her children and family and fled going to the east precinct on capitol hill to report what they knew.

ms. clemmons said that she told the police that maurice probably wanted to stay in a trailer on her property. sure enough, after the 11 hour standoff, during which the police destroyed ms. clemmons home that her family had lived in some 22 years, police say that they did find evidence in that trailer like bloody bandages that clemmons had been there.

amazingly, during all this time -- according to the declaration, the police were actually on their way to chrisceda clemmons home. the police saw clemmons walking around in the neighborhood after just being dropped off. they stopped the car he got out of and learned that it was the one that he had ridden over in. the driver, quiana williams admitted that she had picked clemmons up and had him at her residence.

the declaration isnt clear on clemmons whereabouts from the leschi neighborhood standoff (sunday night - monday morning) until his final encounter on south kenyon street at 245 am tuesday morning with seattle patrolman benjamin kelly.

the standoff described as 11 hours long began around 8:44 pm and lasted until early monday morning. during this time clemmons apparantly, gut shot, made his way through this dragnet for another six miles.

on the map point a is the leschi neighborhood of 3800 east superior street and point b is the 4400 south kenyon street, seattle, wa. google maps estimates a distance of 6.1 miles and 13 minutes by car.

clemmons stole a 1990 acura integra from the 4800 block of south chicago street which is less than a mile from where it broke down at south kenyon. clemmons exact route from leschi sunday night to 4800 south chicago st. is unknown for now. the length of time from 8:44 pm sunday night until around 2:45 am tuesday morning is around 30 hours unaccounted for.

on friday clemmons aunt chrisceda clemmons spoke with kiro's news reporter essex porter. in a series of vid clips posted here ms. clemmons spoke candidly about maurice and what happened sunday.

she said that maurice first starting displaying signs of having a mental problem in may. from what we gather from this kiro report, it was in may that he was arrested and charged with assaulting "pierce county police officers." this charge stemmed from clemmons going on a rampage and breaking out windows in his neighborhood. then in july pierce county charged clemmons with rape of a child in the second degree.

ms. clemmons said that he had spent 130 days in the pierce county jail and he was angry at the way the sheriff's office treated him and that he did it for revenge.

we havent been able to find out if any of the slain officers were any that had arrested him or had worked in the jail.

that sunday evening he called her and said that he had murdered four police officers and that he needed a place to hide and to rest. he told her that he was already enroute. she said that she was so shocked and stunned she couldnt move for a few minutes. ultimately deciding, in panic, to get her family together and flee.

one unfortunate 'side-effect' of the police stand off was that her house was wrecked from all the tear gas and flash bang charges they had shot in through all the windows and doors. ms. clemmons told the police that before fleeing they had locked all the windows and doors so that maurice couldnt get in and that he would be going to a mobile home they owned on an adjacent lot anyway. despite the way that her home and possessions were destroyed unnecessarily by the police, ms. clemmons said that she would do it all over again.

one weird report that was circulating was about clemmons cross-country trip to new york to see bishop bernard jordan who clemmons followed on twitter and apparently live chatted with. the guy that they say came with clemmons introduced him "maurice clemmons, thats jesus christ." to which the bishop replied "we're all jesus christ sir." so you know this preacher is no good. a glance at the zoe ministries website leaves one with the impression that this is another prosperity gospel sham.

isnt it a shame that in his time of need clemmons couldnt find a real man of god? how different things might have turned out.

on the other hand an a report released early on 01 december based on documents relating to clemmons 19 october court ordered mental health exam from his earlier arrest(s) and incarceration:
[S]aid Clemmons threatened to kill jail workers, saying, "I'll kill all you bitches," and described hallucinations in which he saw people drinking blood and eating babies.

The report said at the time of his arrest, Clemmons made "religiously-themed comments, told the officer President Obama and Lebron James are his brothers, Oprah is his sister and referred to himself as 'the beast.'"
another report was of two of clemmons friends. one mai pettes said she had lived by him for three years and that he was always a helpful person. jeff horning, clemmons neighbor said that in all the time he knew clemmons he never saw a jekyll and hyde personality. that clemmons was happy, charismatic and congenial. clemmons was a "very generous person and he helped everybody that i know, he helped several people financially including our family," horning said.

in yet another report one of clemmons neighbors, scott davis, was interviewed and talked about all the undercover police that were constantly watching clemmons. "when i pull up there will be undercover cops sitting all the time. you know, just surveillance, just sitting there, i mean literally right by his house, not trying to be nonchalant or anything, just blatantly sitting there watching him." davis said.

on 01 december someone on twitter under the alias emhicks00 posted a picture of clemmons dead body. with the caption:
Pic of the suspected cop killer in Seattle, Washington.... Justice?
responding to a query from kiro's reporter david quinlan, emhicks00 tweeted:
@David_Quinlan law enforcement took the pic and a friend that lives in Seattle sent it to me. His source works with the postal inspectors
lots of things dont add up. hopefully, the police after they have had some time to deal with their grief and anger will honor their fallen officers by fully investigating everything about this crime.