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Newly released records reveal more about Maurice Clemmons, investigation into police murders

Lakewood Police on alert following the November 2009 shootings of four fellow officers at a Parkland area coffee shop.
Lakewood Police on alert following the November 2009 shootings of four fellow officers at a Parkland area coffee shop.

A batch of documents released by the Pierce County Sheriff late last week reveal more about the man who killed four Lakewood Police officers in a Parkland coffee shop in late 2009. More than 2,000 pages provide added details about Maurice Clemmons, his family and the investigation into the murders.

The documents were released following a long legal dispute between Pierce County and a number of news organizations, including The News Tribune, The Seattle Times, The Associated Press and three Seattle television stations: KIRO, KOMO and KING. 

The details that are emerging shed new light on activities that took place immediately before and after the killings. 

Warrant Check on Clemmons Only Hours Before Rampage

The Seattle Times' Jonathan Martin and Ken Armstrong report Pierce County detectives spotted Clemmons just after midnight on November 29th, about seven hours before the murders at Forza Coffee Shop. One deputy was familiar with him, and ran a records check to see if Clemmons had any outstanding warrants. That check came up clear, according to the Times:

It is yet another example — a particularly dramatic one — of how close authorities came to stopping Clemmons before he acted on a pledge to kill as many police officers as he could. The Pierce County deputy's check for warrants also reinforces the importance of an accumulation of missteps by the state Department of Corrections and others in the days leading up to Clemmons' crime.

Martin and Armstrong also report new details about the ankle bracelet the Arkansas native was required to wear as part of his ability to post bond. According to the records, friend Darkus Allen told authorities Clemmons cut off the tracking bracelet on November 25th, telling Allen:

"When they come to this door, I got something for 'em," (as related by Allen).

Allen is still facing murder charges in Pierce County. 

Clemmons' Wife Doubted He Was a Threat to Police

The News Tribune's Adam Lynn reports on another new detail involving Nicole Smith, Clemmons' wife.  Following the killings, Smith told Pierce County detectives she:

"...would be shocked if Maurice was involved with the shooting of the Lakewood officers," Pierce County sheriff's detective Robert Jackson wrote in a report documenting his interactions with Smith on Nov. 29, 2009.

Smith made the statement despite Clemmons' outbursts against police made to her in phone calls during his final stay in custody, shortly before the murders. 

According to the Trib, the documents also reveal Smith claiming she saw no signs of mental illness, contrary to statements made by other Clemmons' acquaintances. 

The News Tribune plans at least one more story from the released documents.