Families of 2 slain Lakewood officers settle lawsuits for $5 million each

By Jennifer Sullivan | The Seattle Times

The families of two Lakewood police officers who were killed by Maurice Clemmons in November 2009 have reached a financial settlement with the state Department of Corrections.

The families of Sgt. Mark Renninger and Officer Gregory Richards will each receive a $5 million payout, said Jack Connelly, who heads Connelly Law Offices in Tacoma.

On Nov. 29, 2009, Clemmons fatally shot Renninger and Richards, as well as officers Ronald Owens and Tina Griswold as they sat in a coffee shop in Parkland. In an exchange of gunfire, Clemmons was wounded by Richards.

Clemmons was killed two days later by a Seattle police officer.

Attorney Lincoln Beauregard, who works at Connelly’s firm, said that he and Connelly appeared before Pierce County Superior Court Judge Frank Cuthbertson this morning, and the judge finalized the settlements.

“There’s been a long dialogue with the Department of Corrections. A settlement of … this size and this nature doesn’t happen without the court giving its OK. There’s been a resolution of these claims,” Beauregard said.

The lawsuit claimed that DOC mishandled Clemmons case, including wrongly ignoring an Arkansas arrest warrant issued in October 2009 a few weeks before the shootings. Clemmons had served time in prison in Arkansas before moving to Washington.

“DOC was supposed to tell the Pierce County Jail they were supposed to hold Clemmons. They neglected to do it,” Beauregard said.

Clemmons, after suffering an apparent psychotic break, was arrested and jailed in the summer of 2009 on charges of assaulting police officers and child rape. As required by the Interstate Compact on Adult Offender Supervision, which covers the state-to-state transfer of probation cases, Arkansas sent DOC a pair of warrants to hold Clemmons in jail pending trial. Arkansas withdrew the first warrant, but issued a second in October 2009.

Although Clemmons’ community corrections officer noted the warrant — copying it verbatim into DOC’s internal computer system — he did not alert the Pierce County Jail or prosecutors after Clemmons’ arrest in the summer of 2009.

According to Connelly’s office, a settlement with Griswold’s family has already been reached.

Follow link to article