On Nov. 29, 2009, Maurice Clemmons walked into a Forza coffee shop and assassinated four Lakewood police officers. Darcus Allen was his getaway driver.
Only a few days earlier, on Thanksgiving, Clemmons told Allen and others that he was going to murder police officers. On the morning of the murders, Allen drove Clemmons past the coffee shop where four, fully-marked police cars were in the parking lot. Allen then parked at a nearby self-service car wash while Clemmons walked into the coffee shop to commit the murders. While Clemmons was gone, Allen pretended to wash the truck, but witnesses stated there was no water coming out of the hose. When Clemmons returned, Allen drove the two of them quickly away.
Clemmons had been shot by one of the officers during the attack. A witness observed the truck speeding toward Clemmons’s home, where Allen dropped him off with others who transported Clemmons away for medical attention. Allen then dumped the truck at a nearby grocery store parking lot and took the bus back to his home. Allen fled to a motel in Federal Way but was soon located and arrested by the police.
The jury convicted Allen of four counts of premeditated first degree murder. He was sentenced to 420 years in prison. The court of appeals affirmed the convictions finding that while there was a misstatement as to the law in the deputy prosecutor’s argument, it was not prejudicial because the jury was properly instructed on the law. The deputy prosecutor argued that Allen knew Clemmons intended to kill the officers, but also argued that Allen “should have known” because jurors are allowed to find actual knowledge based upon what a reasonable person would have known. The Supreme Court reversed the jury’s decision because the law does not permit conviction based solely on what a person “should” have known.
Prosecutor Mark Lindquist issued the following statement: “As the getaway driver, Allen knew Maurice Clemmons’s plan. This is what the jury found and the court of appeals affirmed their verdict. The deputy prosecutor should have phrased his argument more artfully so it was not open to misinterpretation, but it was the evidence that convicted Allen, not the deputy prosecutor’s words. I’m sorry the families and the community have to endure another trial. Sometimes the pursuit of justice can be a long and arduous path, but I’m confident we will get there.”
Once Allen is returned to the Pierce County Jail, the case will be set for a new trial within 60 days.
Communications and Public Information Coordinator
Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office