View Full Version : What can we learn from the Lakewood Police Murders!

Tom Perroni
December 9th, 2009, 05:01 PM

This was sent to me by one of my LE firearms instructors. Mike is a Fedral Leo & a Good Friend. He sent this out to his officers and I am passing it on to you!

While it is still relatively early in terms of the investigation into the savage murder of four Lakewood Police officers, there is an opportunity for us to look at what we do know and perhaps attempt to learn from it. I have no doubt that law enforcement agencies will take a detailed look at the incident and that much will be garnished in the way of training opportunities and ways to prevent such bloodshed in the future. Let’s start early by looking at what we do know.

What happened?

We do know that:

• Four seasoned officers (years of duty were 13, 14, 12 and 8) were seated at a table in a Café Foiza coffee shop at approximately 8:15am. It appears that they were going over paperwork related to the shift that they were just starting.

• There were other (unknown number) people in the shop including customers and employees.

• The killer, Maurice Clemmons, entered the shop, approached the counter, drew a weapon, turned and began shooting the officers.

• None of the other (non LEO) people were injured and it appears as though they were not targeted.

• One of the officers managed to fire his/her weapon before succumbing to their own injuries and did strike the killer in the torso area.

• The killer fled the location and all four police officers dies as a result of their wounds.

• On Tuesday, a Seattle officer on patrol, and working alone shot and killed Clemmons. The officer recognized Clemmons, ordered him to stop and show his hands and Clemmons ignored the order and attempted to flee. The officer fired several rounds and Clemmons died at the scene.

• Clemmons had a violent criminal history and had told friends to “watch the news. I’m going to kill a lot of cops”. The “friends” did not report this information until after the murders.

What Can We Learn from This?

Look…. In the old days, it was bigtime taboo for cops to point out mistakes and bad choices in police situations that resulted in an officer/officers being killed. Somewhere along the way, people got smart and realized that one of the greatest gifts that a fallen officer can give us all, is a lesson that will help us avoid the same fate. With that in mind, let’s look at a few items in the above incident that are worthy of inspection and consideration.

I think it’s safe to say that this is not the first and will not be the last attack of this kind. On Halloween, there was another ambush in the same area that involved a suspect with a .223 who shot and killed one officer and wounded another…. Mind you, he fired the fatal round through the officer’s ballistic vest. Not a year ago, there was the Oakland California murder of multiple officers by one suspect. So weather we are talking an act of terrorism or a full on criminal assault on the police, I think we all need to be ramped up to an even greater degree than we were years ago. I won’t go into my own beliefs about the dynamics of our evolving society and the criminal mind, but I will say that we will see an increase in this kind of assault and (IMO) more sophisticated, multiple suspects, types of assaults as well. Some of it will be “copycat” and some will be politically or agenda motivated. Whatever the cause, we all must take a close look at how we do what we do and how we can improve our odds of winning any confrontation. With that in mind, these are some preliminary thoughts that come to my mind:

When Uniformed

Never let your guard down! Not for any reason! The uniform that you wear represents many things to many people and to more than a few, it represents the enemy. While some see you as the good guys, some, a necessary nuisance who may issue them a citation or bother them in some way, still many, see you as an occupying force and a legitimate target. Make no mistake about it, all of you who are in uniform have at some point stood next to, walked past or sat at an intersection next to someone who was planning your murder, should you attempt to interact with them.

In a case like the Washington murders, what would you have done if you were one of the officers there? What could you have done that might have turned the attack around on the attacker? I submit to you that it is not difficult at all to be in condition red while appearing to be in Green. It really comes down to an understanding of what you represent to others as described above, and your own situational awareness and ability to stay as much ahead of the reactionary curve as possible in a given situation. Let’s look at that.

When entering any location, are you focused on and assessing those around you? Who is outside the location loitering, or hanging out? Is there a car parked nearby with occupants? Is the engine running? How many people are inside and do they all make eye contact with you as you enter, or is there someone who is giving off a “Vibe”? Where do you sit? Where do you stand if ordering at a counter? Is your weapon next to someone? Can you position yourself so that it’s not?

Who enters the location while you are there and what can an assessment tell you about them? Is he making eye contact? What is he paying attention to? In this case, was there a moment of opportunity as he sized up his targets, planned on who he would take out first, etc.? Was his weapon printing through his clothing? Was his support had swinging naturally as he walked, while his strong hand subconsciously “guarded” his weapon? Was he sweating on an otherwise cool morning? It is entirely possible and in fact necessary to be able to look for these and other signs of pending conflict, while still paying attention to the “Morning brief”. Never forget that there is no formal warning or notice of an attack that is due to commence in five minutes. They occur in a fraction of a second and are fast and furious! You are going to be behind the curve naturally so anything that you can do to shorten the catch up time necessary to put you where you need to be in the fight. On top and victorious!

Now…. In a situation like the one that occurred here, it would be quite an accomplishment to get away without at least one officer being hurt or worse. I say this because of the intentions of the killer here. He had the advantage of knowing that he was going to draw a weapon and unload on four officers. Now, all four being hit is unacceptable! Had they all been aware of the details described above, I believe that as the situation began to unfold, three would have been on target and fighting before he could shift targets. Is that a matter of fact? Not hardly. But, we all must think aggressively when it comes to thinking of that dreaded moment that we all train for but hope to avoid. That moment that when all is said and done, someone will be a winner and someone will be hurt or dead. Simple as that. I submit to you that if you are NOT able to see yourself as the absolute victor in every violent attack against you or your partners, then you are probably not in the right line of work. It’s that important!

As I have said so many times….. The time to formulate a plan is now. If you are caught off guard in an attack like this, you have already lost. The rules of lag time and reaction time will work against you and you will suffer that terrible slow motion, running in waist deep water feeling that some of us have been fortunate enough to survive. So in summery:

• Know your surroundings.

• Watch and read those around you

• Have an absolute plan of attack, should you need to turn the tables of an aggressor.

• Once you start, be aggressive and follow through. Nothing halfway!

• Remember the fundamentals that you practice on the range and run through them in your mind a few times a day. This will instill them into your mind and you will be smoother in the execution of the movements. Stance, grip, Draw, Sight Alignment and trigger press.

When in Plainclothes or Off Duty

See above! Nothing changes in terms of preparation and situational awareness. If you are working plainclothes as we normally do, the above concepts apply in the same way. When conducting interviews, be aware of the actions of the interviewee. Have you done your homework on the person? Did you check out his/her disciplinary record with Amtrak? How about a criminal history check? In any case, take and maintain control of the interview, contact or situation while maintaining an outward appearance that reflects a polite and non threatening demeanor.

Above all… Stay Alert! Stay Alive!

Tom Perroni

December 9th, 2009, 06:19 PM
Thanks Tom, good article.

December 9th, 2009, 06:20 PM
Excellent tips for anyone.

December 9th, 2009, 08:23 PM
Thank you for sharing that...I'll be sure to forward it to brothers and sisters in blue.


December 9th, 2009, 08:34 PM
"What can we learn from the Lakewood Police Murders"

Always sit with your back to the wall!

December 9th, 2009, 09:14 PM
Good stuff, Tom.

December 9th, 2009, 09:58 PM
"What can we learn from the Lakewood Police Murders"

Always sit with your back to the wall!

I was gonna say something similar. It works for mafiosos...

Now, it's really sad that our LEO's need to take pages from the books of the ones they lock up.

December 9th, 2009, 10:24 PM
Bookmarking this for later reading...

December 9th, 2009, 10:40 PM
This was posted on another forum; the short of it is that it is the prosecutor's declaration laying out probable cause to charge the shooter's buddies with helping him. I lays out a lot of details about how the shooting went down, and the shooter's flight afterwards.

One .38 revolver= three head shots and a neck shot. :sad20:

December 10th, 2009, 06:08 AM
No one seems to be asking the question about Motivation?

Did the shooter have any history with the police that he shot?

December 10th, 2009, 08:04 AM
Has anyone heard anything about these SORRY SCUMBAGS who aided and abetted Clemmons after the fact being charged with ANYTHING? In my opinion, everyone who came in contact with this guy and who did not IMMEDIATELY call 911 to report his location should be charged with 1st degree murder for aiding and abetting Clemmons after the fact.

Unless and until we begin charging these sorry excuses for human beings with crimes like this, they will continue to shield and assist their family of criminals and thugs. We must begin extracting a price from those who harbor and give comfort to this kind of sub-human garbage. THAT is the key to REAL law enforcement.

December 10th, 2009, 08:27 AM
It's good advice, but it's just not humanly possible to stay THAT alert all the time. What really sucks is that our LEOs have to even try.

December 10th, 2009, 10:39 AM


For further information, contact: Brad Carpenter (brad@ForzaCoffeeCompany.com), (253) 380-2782.
Forza Coffee Company Pays Tribute to Fallen Officers
http://forzacoffeecompany.com/images/freeqw.pngParkland, WA - December 5, 2009 – Evil came into our lives last Sunday, filled with a rage and hatred - Evil entered what we had believed a safe haven, one of our coffee shops.
Our lives will never be the same; we are for ever changed. However, we do have a choice on what we can focus that change on.
This week as the Lead detective walked me through the scene I learned what true hero’s our fallen officers are.
WE are horrified by the loss of life, but also in awe of the heroism and display of love.
On that Sunday morning evil confronted our four Lakewood police officers. Tina, Mark, Ron and Gregg stood in harms way and they fought a tremendous battle. They did not go quietly, they struggled, and they used deadly force. That force was not enough for this evil, and seeing that this evil was not stopping; one of our heroes (although wounded with mortal wounds himself) first shielded the customers and staff with his body then physically pushed this evil some 15 feet and out of our store.
Their action allowed for two young women to escape unharmed. This, an act of love – for John 15:13 states that greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for others is what should be remembered.
The last act of these heroes was one of love; to stand in harms way for those who can not protect themselves no matter the cost.
Those brave actions have left 4 families with a huge hole in their lives. 9 children lost a parent that day. It’s a debt we can never repay nor forget.
Our two baristas are shaken, but strong. They were able to identify the vehicle the suspect fled in, and then identify the suspect in less then 2 hours, allowing our law enforcement the opportunity to capture evil so it would not perpetuate.
They are being comforted by friends and family, and truly recognize the awesome display of love those officers made in saving their lives.
There is no reason to question, wonder or try and understand why this hate and evil exists. That’s impossible to understand. What we do know is that only love can heal the wounds suffered on Sunday.
Focus on the last heroic act of our peacekeepers, who displayed their love for us, focus on the love for their families that an entire country is offering them.
Focus on the love in the growing memorials and comfort of each other, and then we can show the world that God & love does exist in Pierce County and hate did not win that awful day.
Brad Carpenter
CEO Forza Coffee