Maurice Clemmons, the 37-year-old Tacoma man named as the suspect for the Sunday morning killings of four Lakewood police officers, had a long criminal history of violence and erratic behavior.
He was living in Arkansas and serving a 60-year prison sentence when he was granted clemency by the then-governor, Mike Huckabee. This was nine years ago and Maurice Clemmons has continued on with criminal activities. He was out on bail at the time of the Lakewood police shootings for second degree rape of a child.
When Clemmons was 17 years old he was sentenced to 60 additional years in prison on new charges, he was already serving a 48-year prison term for five felony convictions. The 60 years was added on for charges of robbery, theft of property and possessing a hand gun on school property.
According to the Seattle Times, Larry Jegley, an Arkansas prosecuting attorney commented “This is the day I’ve been dreading for a long time” when he was told that Clemmons was the suspect in the Lakewood police shooting.
When Clemmons was granted clemency by then Governor Huckabee, the state’s prosecuting office was against his decision. Clemmons had already served 9 years and Huckabee decision was based on the fact that the crimes Clemmons committed were done at a very young age, he was only 17 at the time. The decision to release Clemmons was not just with Huckabee alone, the parole board needed to agree to the release, which they did.
Clemmons criminal history has at least five felony convictions in Arkansas and at least eight in the state of Washington. Despite the danger he posed, Clemmons record showed a number of times he had been released from custody.
Mike Huckabee issued a statement regarding the Lakewood police shooting, calling it a “horrible and tragic event”. “If Clemmons is found responsible, “it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State,” Huckabee said in his statement.
This is just one more example of a dangerous person slipping in and out of the justice system. Four police officers in Lakewood Washington would be sitting another day having coffee and working on their laptops if this person was where he belonged.
Reports from Clemmons family members state that he was suffering from mental illness. He was seen by a prison psychiatrist while awaiting trial on the child rape charges and was found competent to stand trial.
Clemmons is married, lives in Tacoma and runs a landscaping business out of his home.
Reference: The Seattle Times