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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Lakewood police shooting

Cop killer’s driver gets 420 years

TACOMA — The getaway driver in the coffee shop shooting deaths of four Lakewood police officers, Dorcus Allen, was sentenced today in Tacoma to 420 years in prison.

The News Tribune reports that during the sentencing the 42-year-old Arkansas native (pictured in May) maintained his innocence. His defense attorneys vowed to immediately appeal.

A jury convicted Allen in May of being an accomplice to four counts of first-degree murder.

Prosecutors say Allen drove Maurice Clemmons to and from the Parkland coffee shop on Nov. 29, 2009, when Clemmons gunned down officers Greg Richards, 42, Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owens, 37, and Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39 (pictured above, left to right). Griswold's sister works for the Spokane Police Department, and her parents live in North Idaho.

Clemmons was killed two days later in a confrontation with a Seattle police officer.

Before the sentencing began, Allen’s defense attorneys argued their client should receive a new trial. They filed paperwork on May 31 arguing that prosecutorial and juror misconduct cost their client a fair trial. Prosecutors have countered in court paperwork that the trial was fair.

Feb. 9: Deputies saw Clemmons before Lakewood murders

Jan. 14: 3 sentenced in Lakewood police murders

Cop killer’s driver convicted of murder

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The getaway driver in the coffee shop killings of four Washington police officers was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday, but he escaped an automatic life sentence because jurors determined he was not a major participant in the bloodshed.

Dorcus Allen, 40, drove gunman Maurice Clemmons to and from the neighborhood where he ambushed the four Lakewood officers, who were preparing for their Sunday morning shift on Nov. 29, 2009. Allen maintained at trial that he didn't know why Clemmons needed the rides.

Clemmons was shot in the abdomen by one of the officers, but kept on the run during an intense two-day manhunt that ended when he was killed by a Seattle patrolman on a dark city street.

“You got what you wanted, but you will not get them back,” Allen told reporters as he was led out of court.

He faced four counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the deaths of Officers Greg Richards, 42, Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owens, 37, and Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39 (pictured above, left to right).

Griswold's sister works for the Spokane Police Department, and her parents live in North Idaho.

Prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty against Allen, so if convicted as charged, he would have been sentenced automatically to the only other possible punishment for aggravated murder, life in prison without the possibility of release.

Jurors convicted Allen of four counts of first-degree murder after finding that he was not a major participant in the shootings. But the jury agreed that the victims were police — an aggravating circumstance that gives the judge the option of sentencing him to life in prison.

Prosecutors will ask for four life sentences when Allen is sentenced June 17, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist told The News Tribune of Tacoma outside the courtroom.

“Justice was done in this case, and we're thrilled with this verdict,” Prosecutor Mark Lindquist told The News Tribune of Tacoma outside the courtroom. “You don't have a getaway driver who doesn't know what's up.”

Peter Mazzone, one of Allen's defense attorneys, had a different reaction.

“I think an innocent man was convicted,” Mazzone said. “We'll appeal as quickly as we can. This was a lynching, man.”

Of seven Clemmons friends or family members arrested after the killings, Allen was the only one charged with murder. Five people have been convicted of either helping Clemmons or possessing firearms. One was acquitted.

Clemmons had previously been held for investigation of child rape and had posted $190,000 bail six days before the shootings.

Clemmons had been convicted in Arkansas of felonies stemming from a seven-month crime spree and was ultimately sentenced to 108 years in prison. He was granted clemency in 2000, despite a history of violence in prison, and he moved to Washington state.

Past coverage:

Feb. 9: Deputies saw Clemmons before Lakewood murders

Jan. 14: 3 sentenced in Lakewood police murders

Deputies saw Clemmons before murders

SEATTLE (AP) — Two deputies in Washington state encountered a convicted felon less than eight hours before he slaughtered four police officers, but a warrant check came up empty, leaving the man free to commit the slayings, documents state. 

Those details, first reported by The Seattle Times, were included in more than 2,000 pages of law-enforcement documents released under a Public Records Act request this month.

The Times, The News Tribune, The Associated Press and Seattle television stations KING, KOMO and KIRO sued to obtain the documents and ultimately prevailed when the state Supreme Court unanimously ordered the release.

The documents show that at 12:38 a.m. on Nov. 29, 2009, Deputies William Marquiss and Levi Redding were on patrol when they pulled behind Maurice Clemmons' 1976 Lincoln Continental.

“Deputy Marquiss informed me he was familiar with the vehicle and immediately had me run Maurice Clemmons to check for possible warrants,” Redding wrote in an incident report. “I informed Deputy Marquiss that Maurice returned with a clear status, as the vehicle parked in a driveway .. We drove by slowly and Deputy Marquiss confirmed Maurice was the passenger but could not identify the driver.”

Clemmons had previously been held for investigation of child rape and had posted $190,000 bail six days earlier with the help of Jail Sucks Bail Bonds in Chehalis. He had engaged in activity that could have resulted in warrants being issued, including failing to report to his community corrections officer and cutting off a monitoring bracelet provided by Jail Sucks.

Hours after the deputies saw Clemmons, he walked into the Forza Coffee Shop in Parkland and opened fire on four officers as they sat preparing to go out on patrol. Killed were Officers Greg Richards, 42,  Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owens, 37, and Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39 (pictured above, left to right).

Click the link below to read the rest of the story by Associated Press Writer Gene Johnson.

3 sentenced in Lakewood police murders

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Three people convicted for helping a man who gunned down four police officers in a Tacoma suburb have been sentenced to prison.

Pierce County prosecutors alleged they provided medical aid, transportation and other assistance to Maurice Clemmons as he tried to evade a massive manhunt following the shootings in November 2009.

The News Tribune of Tacoma reports Eddie Davis received more than a decade for helping Clemmons after the shooting and for gun charges.

Clemmons' friend, Doug Davis, was sentenced to 7½ years on weapons charges and his aunt Letrecia Nelson to more than six years.

They were convicted in December while Clemmons' half-brother, Rickey Hinton, was acquitted of all charges.

In all, seven people were accused of helping Clemmons. Five others were convicted, and alleged getaway driver Darcus Allen (right) awaits trial.

Killed in the shooting were Lakewood officers Greg Richards, 42, Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owens, 37, and Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39.

They're pictured above from left to right.

Past coverage:

Nov. 30, 2009: Sister of slain officer: 'My worst nightmare has come true'

Mixed verdict in Lakewood shooting trial

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A jury in Tacoma returned mixed verdicts today against four people accused of helping Maurice Clemmons after he gunned down four Lakewood police officers in a coffeeshop last year. 

Two of the defendants — Clemmons’ aunt Letrecia Nelson and his cousin Eddie Davis — were found guilty of rendering criminal assistance and gun charges. Another, Doug Davis, was convicted of gun charges for handling a weapon taken from one of the slain officers, but not of helping Clemmons. 

Clemmons’ half-brother, Rickey Hinton (right), was acquitted of all charges, and Judge Stephanie Arend signed an order authorizing his immediate release from jail. Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar and Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist are pictured at left reacting to the verdict.

Pierce County prosecutors alleged that the four provided medical aid, transportation and other help to Clemmons as he tried to evade a massive manhunt.

Clemmons was killed by a lone Seattle patrolman two days after he shot Lakewood officers Greg Richards, 42, Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owens, 37, and Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, on Nov. 29, 2009. (The victims are pictured above from left to right.)

Read the rest of the Associated Press story here.

Judges get more power to restrict bail

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington voters overwhelmingly decided Tuesday to give judges more power to deny a suspect bail, after last year’s brutal slaying of four Lakewood police officers by a gunman who had recently been released.

The Legislature approved the measure in the spring, but it was a constitutional amendment and needed voter approval to be enacted. It was passing with about 86 percent of the  vote.

Previously, the only charge for which bail could be denied was aggravated murder. The amendment allows state judges to deny bail when a suspect is charged with any crime carrying a possible life  sentence and poses a danger to the community. About 4,100 defendants a year are charged with such crimes in the state.

“It is a new tool prosecutors and judges can use to keep the baddest of the bad off the streets,” said Reagan Dunn, executive director of the Remember Lakewood campaign. “This was a measured, common sense referendum to the people. It doesn’t violate defendants’ rights and it seems sensible to most people.”

Maurice Clemmons (right) had posted bail less than a week before he killed the four Lakewood officers last November. He had been arrested for investigation of child rape, which could have brought a life sentence because of his previous criminal record.

Among the measure’s supporters was Kim Renninger, the widow of Lakewood Sgt. Mark Renninger, who says it could save someone’s life.

Officers Greg Richards, Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens and Renninger (pictured clockwise from upper left) were ambushed at a coffee shop in a Tacoma suburb on Nov. 29. (Griswold’s sister works for the Spokane Police Department. Her parents live in Post Falls.) Clemmons eluded police for two days, but was shot and killed by an officer in Seattle after a massive manhunt.

Opponents of the measure argued that judges could already set high bail or other conditions of release. The problem in Clemmons’ case wasn’t that the judge who granted the release had too little authority, but too little information about the defendant’s extremely violent past, they said.

At least a dozen other states, including California and Florida, have constitutional clauses or statutes that allow judges to deny bail for charges other than capital crimes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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