By Adam Lynn | The News Tribune
A Pierce County judge this morning approved a settlement between the families of three slain Lakewood police officers and the state Department of Corrections that calls for the state to pay the families $12.5 million.
Survivors of Sgt. Mark Renninger and officer Gregory Richards will received $5 million each under the terms of the settlement, said Tacoma attorney Lincoln Beauregard, who represented them. Survivors of officer Tina Griswold will receive $2.5 million, Beauregard said.
The three officers and colleague Ronald Owens were gunned down Nov. 29, 2009 in a Parkland coffee shop by convicted felon Maurice Clemmons. The families filed claims for damages against the Department of Corrections last year, contending the department did not do enough to monitor Clemmons then lied about their bungling. Owens claim remains in effect.
“The mistakes they made were so blatant and egregious there really was no defense,” Beauregard told The News Tribune this afternoon. “They really screwed up.”
The department released a statement about the settlement.
“The brutal act of violence by Maurice Clemmons took the lives of four dedicated police officers and caused unimaginable grief to their families,” the statement reads. “We hope these settlements help the victims’ families, particularly the children, overcome their loss.”
The department also said its made changes since the shootings “to improve public safety.”
“With the support from Gov. Chris Gregoire, we successfully convinced the national organization that oversees the interstate compact to change its rules to provide states with more authority to send offenders back if they pose a significant risk to public safety,” the department said.
Clemmons was on probation in his home state of Arkansas when he moved to Washington before the shootings.
“I’m proud of my clients for fighting this fight,” Beauregard said. “Hopefully, somebody benefits from these changes in the future.”