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Seattle prosecutors: Friends helped shooting suspect

Two men are arraigned on charges of rendering criminal assistance. Other charges are expected against friends and relatives of Maurice Clemmons, accused in the shooting deaths of four police officers.

December 02, 2009|By Kim Murphy

Reporting from Tacoma, Wash. — Hours after the man suspected of killing four Seattle-area police officers was shot to death Tuesday, prosecutors said they had evidence that an extensive network of friends and relatives had helped the wounded fugitive evade a massive, two-day manhunt.

Two friends of Maurice Clemmons -- who was killed in the predawn hours when a Seattle police officer recognized him near a stolen car -- 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 police ambush occurred, could be charged soon.

According to court documents filed Tuesday, friends and family helped Clemmons, a 37-year-old landscaper, dress his wound and gave him a cellphone, transportation and, for a time, shelter.

Prosecutors said that Clemmons on Saturday had boasted to brothers Douglas and Eddie Davis -- the two men arraigned Tuesday -- of his plan to go out and kill police officers, showing them two handguns.

Clemmons returned to their home the next day and announced he had "taken care of his business," the brothers told detectives.

The two are charged with a Class C felony. Douglas Davis was detained on $500,000 bail, and 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.

At the conclusion of the hearing, officers from the Lakewood, Wash., police department supported relatives of their slain colleagues as they left the courtroom. Strong arms were draped firmly around a sobbing woman's shoulders.

"We are all relieved to have Maurice Clemmons off the street, but there's still work to be done here. We're not going to rest until everyone involved in this murder in any way is brought to justice," Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist told reporters. "When you help a criminal, you become a criminal."

Clemmons was spotted about 2:45 a.m. Tuesday when a seven-year veteran of the Seattle force on routine patrol noticed a car idling along the side of the road in Seattle's Rainier Valley area, its hood up. When he stopped to check, the officer discovered that the car had been reported stolen a couple of 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, Clemmons began running around the disabled vehicle and the officer fired several rounds at him, killing him.

"It was all over in 15 seconds," Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said.

Officials confirmed that Clemmons had suffered a serious gunshot wound to the stomach Sunday. They also said he had one of the slain officers' guns.

"I just want to thank all my brothers and sisters in law enforcement for the hours and hours of tireless work since this tragedy happened," Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar said. "I knew that they would bring this to a resolution -- they would find this person."

kim.murphy@latimes.com

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