Wife said Clemmons wasn't angry

Nicole SMith: Newly released records detail interview

February 8, 2011 

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 Friday. The records include 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.”

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.

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 Smith’s 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.

Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Monday she might have lied about her husband’s motivations and mental health but told the truth about the substantive question.

“She told police what they needed to know: Where was Clemmons?” Lindquist said. “Nicole might have downplayed his hatred and downplayed his craziness, but she told police what they needed to know when they needed to know it.”

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644 adam.lynn@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/crime

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