"Maurice Clemmons, the 37-year-old Tacoma man being sought for questioning in the killing this morning of four Lakewood police officers, has a long criminal record punctuated by violence, erratic behavior and concerns about his mental health.
Nine years ago, then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee granted clemency to Clemmons, commuting his lengthy prison sentence over the protests of prosecutors. "This is the day I've been dreading for a long time," Larry Jegley, prosecuting attorney for Arkansas' Pulaski County said tonight when informed that Clemmons was being sought for questioning in connection with the killings.
Clemmons' criminal history includes at least five felony convictions in Arkansas and at least eight felony charges in Washington. The record also stands out for the number of times he has been released from custody despite questions about the danger he posed.
Huckabee, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination last year, issued a statement tonight calling the slaying of the police officers "a horrible and tragic event." If Clemmons is found responsible, "it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State," Huckabee said.
He added that Clemmons' release from prison had been reviewed and approved by the Arkansas parole board."
Which is true. Therefore the first question should be how in the heck did that parole board come to that recommendation? Very rarely will any governor reject clemency on an individual that has had such approval.
Yet read on.
"Clemmons had been in jail in Pierce County for the past several months on a pending charge of second-degree rape of a child.
He was released from custody just six days ago, even though was staring at seven additional felony charges in Washington state.
Clemmons posted $15,000 with a Chehalis company called Jail Sucks Bail Bonds. The bondsman, in turn, put up $150,000, securing Clemmons' release on the pending child-rape charge."
While politically I'm not a fan of Huckebee, it's silly to blame him for the vile acts of this individual. If we want to follow the cause and effect of that logic we should blame the judge in Pierce County that set a bond on Clemmons.
The fact is that our justice system has such breakdowns isn't surprising, and neither is taking this awful situation to take pot-shots at Huckabee. There is lots of blame to go around but right now the families of four dead police officers grieve, and Clemmons is on the loose.
Let's pray for the families of those officers and for the capture of Clemmons, they'll be plenty of time for incriminations and "would've, should've" later.
UPDATE: The Real McCain is following developments overnight as SWAT has Clemmon's house surrounded.