Family, friends helped Clemmons, officials say
TACOMA – Hours after the man suspected of killing four Seattle-area police officers was shot to death Tuesday, prosecutors said they had evidence of an extensive network of friends and relatives who helped him evade a massive manhunt.
Two friends of Maurice Clemmons, who was killed in the predawn hours Tuesday in a confrontation with a Seattle officer who recognized him as the shooting suspect, were arraigned in Pierce County Superior Court on charges of rendering criminal assistance. Authorities said at least three other people, including a driver who allegedly helped Clemmons flee the suburban coffee shop where the ambush occurred, soon could be charged.
According to court documents, friends and family helped Clemmons, 37, dress his own gunshot wound and provided him with a cell phone, transportation and shelter as he sought to evade the dragnet laid across Western Washington.
Prosecutors said that Clemmons boasted to brothers Douglas and Eddie Davis on Saturday of his plan to go out and kill police officers and that he had shown the brothers two handguns. Clemmons returned to their home the next day and announced that he had “taken care of his business,” the brothers told detectives.
The two were charged Tuesday with a Class C felony. Douglas Davis was detained in lieu of $500,000 bail; his brother’s bail was set at $700,000. A third man, Rickey Hinton, was ordered held for an additional 72 hours until prosecutors could prepare charges against him.
The slain officers were identified as Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold and Greg Richards. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said Richards was the one who fought with and wounded Clemmons at the Parkland coffee shop, the Associated Press reported.
Clemmons was spotted about 2:45 a.m. Tuesday when a Seattle officer noticed a car idling with its hood up on the side of the road in the Rainier Valley area. When he stopped to check, the officer discovered that the car had been reported stolen hours earlier. The officer then detected movement behind him. “He recognized the person who was approaching him to be looking … just like the person that has been broadcast as the possible suspect in the tragic homicide in Lakewood,” Seattle Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel said.
The officer ordered Clemmons to stop and show his hands. Instead, the suspect began running around the disabled vehicle. The officer fired several rounds. “It was all over in 15 seconds,” Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.
After he was killed, Clemmons was found with one of the slain officers’ guns.
According to court documents, Clemmons arrived at the coffee shop Sunday morning with two handguns – a .38-caliber revolver found with six spent shell casings and a 9 mm handgun.
It had one spent casing.
Two baristas said they fled out a back door and into a car as soon as Clemmons began firing. They said they saw him struggling at the front door of the coffee shop with one of the officers as they drove down the street. Clemmons was shot in the abdomen. “The medics … were shaking their heads when they saw that the suspect had been shot directly in the middle … and the guy managed to leave a scene – let alone walk around for a couple days,” Troyer said.
Prosecutors said they were interviewing a purported getaway driver to determine how much he knew of Clemmons’ plans before deciding whether to charge him with murder.
As for Hinton, his involvement allegedly began Saturday night, when Clemmons asked him for the keys to his white pickup, saying he “needed it the next morning,” the court documents said.
Hinton told officers Clemmons showed up on foot Sunday morning, bleeding. Hinton gave Eddie Davis the keys to his Pontiac and told both Davis brothers to “get Clemmons out of there,” the documents said.