The Metropolitan King County Council Tuesday gave thumbs up on a Washington legislative measure to deny bail to felons arrested on a potential "third strike" offense.
Councilors indicated their vote was triggered by Maurice Clemmons' fatal shootings of four Lakewood police officers drinking coffee and doing paperwork in a café Nov. 29, 2009.
"The King County Council today sent a message to Olympia – we don't want to see any more cops killed," said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, the sponsor of the motion, in a statement his week. "Criminals facing the possibility of life in prison are a flight risk and are dangerous to the community. They should stay incarcerated until the courts have a chance determine guilt or innocence."
The two Constitutional amendments were introduced Dec. 3 by Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, a lawmaker and a Seattle police officer.
The first would prohibit bail for alleged offenders falling under "three strikes" rules – anyone with two previous felony convictions.
The second would eliminate bail for anyone convicted of a violent offense, if they had previously been granted a gubernatorial pardon.
"The suspect in the Lakewood police murders had nothing to lose," Hope told the Seattle Times last year. "He knew that if convicted, he would spend the rest of his life in prison.
"Letting him out on bail was a huge mistake, and something that we can't afford to let happen again."
Clemmons, during his teen years in Arkansas, was sentenced to more than 100 years in prison after being convicted of robbing and assaulting a woman, burglarizing a home and bringing a gun at school.
He served 11 years of that sentence before being granted clemency by then-Gov. Mike Huckabee. He won his released in 2000, but was soon sent back to serve two years for a robbery. Witnesses say he repeatedly ranted that he was a victim of a racist judicial system.
In its exclusive investigative report, The Seattle Times reported Sunday that Clemmons spoke of killing police out of revenge during numerous phone calls to his wife from the Pierce County Jail.
The newspaper reviewed almost nine hours of tape recorded calls it obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request that showed law enforcement apparently never listened to Clemmons' recorded calls before he was released Nov. 17.
Six Washington police officers have been killed in gun violence in the past four months, councilmember Dunn noted, four killed by Clemmons alone, in what has been described as the deadliest attack on law enforcement in state history.
Clemmons, who was shot do death by an officer after an intense two-day manhunt, was on bail after a parole violation on charges he raped his 12-year-old stepdaughter, assaulted sheriff's deputies and committed vandalism. If convicted he faced a life sentence under the "three strikes" law.
Washington's "no bail" legislation was overwhelmingly passed by both the state Senate and the House of Representatives, and is now headed to a conference committee.
If it passes through committee, the constitutional goes before voters during the general election in November.
In an Oct. 4 recording, Clemmons tells his wife he will need a gun, the newspaper said.
"I ain't use to pack one, but every day where I go, I'm going to have one right in my front pocket," he said. If police cross him, "It's going to be the last time they (say) 'Hey mister.' Boom. Dead in they forehead.'"
Clemmons, 37, knew his calls were being recorded. Yet during most of the calls, he talks of a killing spree, saying it would be retribution for a lifetime of abuse by police, The Times said.
Clemmons feared spending life in prison and was obsessed with revenge, while Smith, 38, talked of possibly losing her Tacoma home to foreclosure.
Clemmons was a threat to public safety, concluded Craig Adams, a Pierce County deputy prosecuting attorney who reviewed the recordings before releasing them several weeks ago to The Times. But he said officers rarely listen to live jail calls, so there probably was little authorities could have done to prevent the shootings.
"Hindsight is perfect," Adams said. "He was feeling victimized, rightly or wrongly. He felt framed."
A court-ordered mental-health evaluation on Oct. 19 determined his "thought processes were intact." Clemmons denied thoughts of harming anyone even as he was sharing his plans over the phone.
"The Lakewood officers were at the wrong place at the wrong time -- targets of opportunity," Adams said.