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Suspect In Police Shootings Shot Dead


You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

In Tacoma, Washington this afternoon, prosecutors charged two men who they believe provided assistance to a suspected cop killer. Maurice Clemmons evaded police for more than a day after police say he ambushed and killed four police officers on Sunday. Early this morning, he was shot to death by a Seattle policeman.

NPR's Martin Kaste has the latest.

MARTIN KASTE: Clemmons met his end shortly after 2 a.m., when an officer patrolling a residential neighborhood in south Seattle discovered an empty car idling in the street. The encounter was almost accidental, says Assistant Police Chief Nick Metz.

Mr. Nick Metz (Assistant Police Chief, Seattle Police Department): This was a situation where the officer just was simply checking out a suspicious vehicle, realized it was stolen and was just taking the actions that any officer would take. And he noticed the subject coming up from behind him.

KASTE: Metz says when the patrolman ordered Clemmons to show his hands, Clemmons refused and ran. The officer shot him to death. Police say Clemmons was armed with a gun taken from one of the four Lakewood officers killed on Sunday. Less than three hours later, still, well before sunrise, Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar, stood close to the spot where Clemmons was shot, now cordoned off with police tape, and thanked his colleagues from other departments.

Mr. BRET FARRAR (Lakewood Police Chief): I knew that they would bring this to a resolution. They would find this person and this person would be arrested or found.

KASTE: things didn't look so sure yesterday.

(Soundbite of siren)

(Soundbite of radio)

Unidentified Man #1: 5110 South (unintelligible) Street.

KASTE: On police scanners, officers could be heard crisscrossing Seattle, following any tip that might lead to Clemmons.

Unidentified Man #2: Oh, we got a lot of blood. We got a lot of blood up here in the park.

KASTE: Blood trails were a special interest because investigators believed Clemmons had been wounded by one of the officers during the attack. Pierce County sheriff spokesman Ed Troyer says now that investigators have seen Clemmons' body, they know they were right about that.

Mr. ED TROYER (Pierce County Sheriff's Spokesman): The wound was severe. In fact, after looking at the wound where he was shot and the job that the Lakewood officer did, I'm surprised he survived it.

KASTE: He says Clemmons had an amateurish bandage on the wound. Police and prosecutors are now turning their attention to people they say helped Clemmons while he was on the run.

Mr. TROYER: Some are friends, some are acquaintances, some are partners in crime and some are relatives.

KASTE: Already this afternoon, prosecutors have begun the process of charging those friends and relatives, some of whom are in custody. As to Clemmons, it's still not clear what his motive might have been. Investigators say he might have been angry about the multiple felony charges he was facing. But at least one family member has come forward to say Clemmons had gone insane.

Martin Kaste, NPR News, Seattle. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers law enforcement and privacy. He has been focused on police and use of force since before the 2014 protests in Ferguson, and that coverage led to the creation of NPR's Criminal Justice Collaborative.