Huckabee Freed Suspected Cop Killer

Published December 1, 2009

The suspected cop killer who was shot dead by police early this morning in Seattle had a 95-year prison sentence commuted by then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2000.

Maurice Clemmons, who returned to prison a year after his release – only to be freed again in 2004 – had been charged with child rape and assaulting a police officer just days before he allegedly gunned down four Seattle-area police officers. He was on $150,000 bond at the time, according to published reports.

The latest chapter in Clemmons’ violent bio has brought Huckabee’s clemency record under scrutiny. The former governor, who ran as a conservative Republican candidate in the last presidential election, said that recent events point to a systemic breakdown in the justice system.

"Should he be found responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington state," Huckabee's office said in a statement Sunday night.

Clemmons, 37, was shot and killed Tuesday in south Seattle after he challenged police who approached him, CNN reports.

The Seattle Police Department confirmed to the Pierce County Sheriff's office that Maurice Clemmons was killed after challenged police who approached him, according to spokesman Ed Troyer.

The shooting, which took place about 2 a.m., ended a two-day manhunt for Clemmons that began Sunday after an ambush-style killing of four police officers from Lakewood, about 40 miles south of Seattle.

The slain officers were identified as Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39; Officer Ronald Owens, 37; Officer Tina Griswold, 40; and Officer Greg Richards, 42. All of them were parents and had been with the department since its inception.

On Monday, police began rounding up the relatives of Clemmons, saying that family and friends had been helping him elude capture. Clemmons had been wounded, and authorities said that he was not only getting help treating his torso wound, but relatives had been calling in scores of false leads.

Police had brought in five or six relatives and friends, and were about to arrest several many others. Troyer said that anyone failing to cooperate with authorities would face criminal charges themselves.

"What we're going to do is eliminate those people, so he'll have no place to go," Troyer told CNN yesterday.

Written by <P>By BET.com Staff</P>

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