Maurice Clemmons' wife denied knowing husband posed threat to police

February 7, 2011 

Maurice Clemmons' wife denied knowing husband posed threat to p

This June 2004 photo provided by the Pulaski County Circuit Court shows Maurice Clemmons, right, Nicole Smith, center and Judge Marion Humphrey after Clemmons and Smith were married in Arkansas. (AP File Photo)

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

About two months before he walked into a Parkland coffee shop and gunned down four Lakewood police officers, Maurice Clemmons told his wife he planned to "kill every last one of them devils."

Clemmons was referring to law enforcement officers, whom he believed were unjustly persecuting him.

On the day her husband made good on his threat, Nicole Smith told investigators the exact opposite – that she had no reason to believe Clemmons was angry with police.

“Nicole said 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.

Jackson’s report was one of hundreds connected to the massacre of Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens and Gregory Richards released to The News Tribune, the Seattle Times and other news organizations Friday.

The records compiled by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department document in sometimes excruciating detail the investigation into the officers’ deaths and the subsequent search for Clemmons.

The sheriff’s department turned over the more than 2,000 pages after news organizations and other interested parties won a public records lawsuit demanding their release.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled in November that Pierce County Superior Court judges Susan Serko, Bryan Chushcoff and Stephanie Arend erred when they sealed the reports and exhibits last year at the request of a number of people criminally charged in connection with the shootings.

News Tribune reporters read the documents over the weekend and are preparing at least two stories based on them. While the records don’t reveal anything groundbreaking, they do provide some details that weren’t publicly known until now, including Smith’s comments to investigators.

Jackson and colleague Mark Merod interviewed Smith shortly after 10 a.m. on Nov. 29, 2009, after police stopped her as she was leaving her house in a car.

Jackson and Merod asked her a number of questions, including if her husband harbored anger toward police.

“Nicole told us Maurice was not angry towards police and had never verbalized any anger towards the police while incarcerated in jail this last time,” Pierce County sheriff’s detective Mark Merod wrote in a report. “Nicole told us Maurice never blamed police for his problems, but was more upset at the jail system as a whole.”

Phone calls Clemmons made from jail while incarcerated from Oct. 1 to Nov. 17 tell a different story.

In one of them, he told his wife he would need to get a gun when he was released.

If police crossed him, he said, “It’s going to be the last time they say, ‘Hey, mister.’ Boom. Dead in they forehead.”

The Seattle Times obtained recordings of those phone calls through a public records request and published a story based on them in February 2010.

Smith, 39, also told police that day she’d seen no signs of mental illness in her husband, according to Jackson’s and Merod’s reports.

Various acquaintances of the cop killer have testified in court they noticed a severe deterioration in Clemmons’ mental health in the months before the massacre of Renninger and officers Griswold, Owens and Richards.

Some testified Clemmons, 37, believed he was God.

Smith told the detectives she had not seen her husband since Thanksgiving when she took a plate of food and some blankets to him.

He’d been staying in a different house since being released from jail because he’d been charged with a sex offense involving her daughter.

Smith told detectives she hadn’t heard from him that day and didn’t have any idea how he might be spending his day.

“She said he’s probably home reading the Bible,” Jackson wrote in his report.

Police later searched her house but found no sign of her husband, who was shot dead by a Seattle police officer in the early-morning hours of Dec. 1.

Smith has not been charged with a crime in connection with the Lakewood shootings.

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