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UPDATED: Say it ain’t so, Lakewood police survivors

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on April 9, 2010 at 11:41 am with 12 Comments »
April 9, 2010 9:21 pm

UPDATE: At least three of the families have now decided to abandon their claims for damages against Pierce County due to the public outcry.

Never in the history of the South Sound, perhaps, have so few squandered so much good will in so little time.

Check out the online comments on Friday’s story about the $192 million claim against Pierce County filed by the survivors of the four Lakewood officers killed in Parkland last November. I can’t remember when I’ve seen our readers express so much raw disappointment about a local event.

There may not have been a soul in the region – outside of hardened criminals – who didn’t sympathize with these families after the officers were shot. Many South Sounders donated money to accounts set up for the survivors. People who gave $10 or $20 or $50 out of meager incomes now feel had.

Accusations of greed may or may not be fair. The families now claim they are seeking the money only to force changes in policy. Nevertheless, any money they won would come – directly or indirectly – out of the county’s revenues, most of which are used for law enforcement and criminal justice.

The logical problem with the claims, as I see it, is the presumption that better monitoring of Maurice Clemmons’ phone calls was a) feasible and b) likely to have stopped Maurice Clemmons. The Sheriff’s Department has estimated it would take $45 million a year and 50 full-time employees to review all tapes of all phone calls made from the county jail.

Budgeting means prioritizing. Would we rather be spending that kind of money putting deputies on the streets or listening to taped phone calls?

The problem with Clemmons is not that he looked uniquely bad; it was that he looked too much like a lot of other really bad guys, of whom there are far too many in this area. Some of these criminals routinely rant – generically, as Clemmons did – about killing people who’ve gotten in their way, cops included. How was anyone to know that this particular thug was the one who would actually walk into a café and do it?

The real complaint here is that the Sheriff’s Department didn’t have an unlimited budget and a crystal ball.

Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. jimkingjr says:

    These greedy “survivors” are going to continue to do immense damage. The reform efforts on bail, now headed toward the ballot, could be harmed by the disgust felt by the community. Other efforts that have been undertaken to tighten up the ways in which the system failed could also now be put at risk.

    How much support will there be for measures to be sure other “survivors” are taken care of if the public believes such efforts willo only be followed by lawsuits?

    These families needv to withdraw their claims, and fade into the shadows- they have no credibility with the community any longer.

  2. klthompson says:

    Why are prisoners allowed so many calls? It seems to me that five five minute calls per week to family should be more than enough. After all, they are in jail, not at the club.

  3. Det. Troyer’s statement, that the lawsuit is MERITLESS is Right on. All of us who have served in the U.S. OR Police FORCES, DID IT BECAUSE WE WANTED THE joB. SOME OF us, HAD TO TAKE BULLETS, STILL HAVE PARTS IN OUR BODIES we provided finsurance policies for our families, at a high cost before entering war zones, to ensure our wife and children were taken care off, college, etc. SGT. Renninger-more than likely would disapprove of his wifes? decision, after the county, Canada, NY and others paid their respects, Paid $150K after their death, 2M dollars from Police officers, pennies from school childeren, and now THESE Harlets want $2192M. What about the army, navy, airforce or Marine wife????Whats next Oprah, Dr. Phil, Larry King??? And O sure their Christan Pastor thinks its OK. Ya he gets a free lunch, car, house and just keep them kid from the school bus coming in so (I’s) can bapitise them and they will not get in trouble, hens forth. Pastor Smith>?

  4. Candles16 says:

    Patrick, you nailed it.
    The public could not have been more supportive of these families and their loss. There will be a strong backlash if the lawsuits go forward and its a terrible precedent that would undermine any future goodwill.
    These families should reconsider their ill-conceived idea to sue the county.

  5. geeterpontiac says:

    Gee Patrick,

    Shouldn’t they be suing Arkansas?

    After all, it was all their fault anyway. :)

    Buy, yes, pretty sad on the part of the survivors.

  6. centerist says:

    Great first step. The next would be to drop the suit and to fire the lawyer who ill advised them to do this in the first place. To not have anticipated the public response was stupid.

  7. I felt deeply ashamed and outraged at the survivors. Could we have been more sympathetic; supportive?!
    What a slap in the face to the Sheriff’s office and to the hundreds of thousands of Tacoma citizens who donated money, who lined the streets for the memorial, who put blue lights on their porches.
    I’m glad three of the families have withdrawn their suits, but it will take me a few days to forgive their greed for even thinking of going down that path. . .

  8. LibertyBell says:

    Why would anyone abond their claims against the most corrupt government Department in the State?

    Murder is the same old normal procedure, in Pierce County Government, part of that official sheriff’s policy, and Tacoma Police Chiefs too!

    Another R.I.C.O. from your democratic party. A Confederation of Crime, just go ask the real judges, not those downstairs with a prostitute, on the Pierce County Model1


    The mass arrests of defendants in November 1978 marked the culmination of a federal undercover operation begun in the fall of 1977. The investigation was prompted by a rash of arsons at Pierce County taverns and topless dancing establishments. Between 1972 and 1977 three taverns in which Williams, Mazzuca, John Carbone, and Joe Carbone had ownership or management interests were destroyed by fire.1 All were insured. There was evidence that, prior to the fires, the establishments had been experiencing poor business. Thereafter, mortgages and debts were paid, the premises were remodeled or new establishments were opened nearby.

    Between 1976 and 1978 seven suspected arsons also occurred at the establishments of competitors in the tavern, disco or topless dancing business.2 Because local law enforcement officers were unsuccessful in apprehending the perpetrators, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) began a joint investigation of the tavern fires with the sheriff’s office in the fall of 1977.

    By April 1978, evidence indicated Sheriff Janovich was providing information to a principal target (Williams). The ATF feigned abandonment of the investigation and dissolved the “partnership.” Thereafter, the FBI and ATF conducted an undercover operation.

    After his arrest in April 1978, defendant Michael Valentine agreed to cooperate with the ATF. Thereafter, the government recorded conversations between Williams and Valentine in which Williams admitted responsibility for arranging the attempted assassination of a state liquor control board supervisor responsible for policing Pierce County taverns for alcohol and topless dancing violations. In November 1977, the supervisor had been shot four times and seriously wounded.

  9. LibertyBell says:

    Say it aint so?

    PEIRCE COUNTY, WASHINGTON – A Pierce County Corrections officer was arrested early Sunday morning on suspicion of causing a night of mayhem in Chehalis that involved several accidents and a truck theft, police reported.

    The officer, Duane M. Jones, 37, was arraigned in Lewis County on Monday on charges of auto theft and hit-and-run involving an unattended vehicle, said Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer.

    Troyer said a charge of driving while under the influence is expected pending a report from the Washington State Patrol.

    Pierce County Corrections has suspended Jones without pay until a criminal investigation and separate internal investigation by the sheriff’s department are done, Troyer said.

  10. LibertyBell says:

    Say it ain true?

    The Porn Police, making porno movies, part of those dutys left over from Sheriff Janovich, Pierce County Finest, shown best in a Federal Penal Institution.

    SEATTLE (CN) – After arresting her, a Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy took a photo of a woman’s genitals and “uploaded the pornographic image onto a law enforcement database for nothing more than the amusement of his colleagues,” the woman claims in King County Court.
    The woman, identified in the complaint as D.C., says Deputy Eugene Allen arrested and handcuffed her on suspicion of drunken driving. He left her alone in the squad car and she “tried to get her handcuffs from behind her back to the front,” according to the complaint.
    “During this process, plaintiff D.C. inadvertently exposed her genitals when the handcuffs reached around her pants.” Officer Allen “took advantage of plaintiff D.C.’s compromising position by photographing plaintiff D.C.’s genitals,” the complaint states.
    “Defendant Allen then uploaded the pornographic photo to ‘Gondor,’ a law enforcement database, exposing plaintiff’s genitals to all law enforcement agencies with access to the computer database. At roughly the same time, Deputy Allen filed a report of the arrest, which accomplished little other than amusing himself and his colleagues.”
    D.C. sued Allen and Pierce County, seeking punitive damages for outrage and invasion of privacy. She is represented by Darryl Cochran with Pfau, Cochran, Vertetis & Kosnoff of Tacoma.

  11. “Never in the history of the South Sound, perhaps, have so few squandered so much good will in so little time.”

    Jeebus Patrick! Hon….talk about putting SALT in the wound and lighter fluid on an already lit flame. It’s time to forgive these families…they made a mistake, they fixed it. Their loved ones are STILL dead and WE get to live to see another day. “By compassion we make others’ misery our own, and so, by relieving them, we relieve ourselves also.” Thomas Browne Sr.

  12. geeterpontiac says:

    There is a good article in the Seattle Times that does ask some good questions about Pierce Country Judiciary and law enforcement.

    Another thought too, I suspect the numbers provided by the Pierce Country Sherriff regarding the cost of monitoring this sort of the stuff was a conflated estimate. By that, an estimate arrived at using a worst possible case senario where you monitor everyone in jail, regardless of cause of imprisonment, 24/7.

    Of course, in real life, you would never do that. Why monitor a guy or gal picked uup for DUI or some such. No, you would just reserve such efforts for those like Clemmons.

    Besides, the real concern in this case is what we know he said coming from the type of individual we knew he was and the bail that was set.

    Pierce County knew he was a really bad dude.

    Let’s take this a step further. Suppose the guy after killing the officers had killed the people working in the establishment? And, then other bystanders? What do you think Pierce Country, i.e. the taxpayers would be facing now?

    Lawsuits they would lose. And, rightly so.

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