Clemmons' driver denies knowledge of plot to kill
A 38-year-old man with a double-murder conviction in Arkansas drove Maurice Clemmons to the area where four Lakewood police officers were shot to death Sunday, but it is unclear whether the man knew Clemmons planned to kill the officers, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
Seattle Times staff reporters
Coverage from the days following the Lakewood shootings
A man with a double-murder conviction in Arkansas drove Maurice Clemmons to the area where four Lakewood police officers were shot to death Sunday, but it is unclear whether he knew Clemmons planned to kill the officers, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
Darcus D. Allen, 38, who is wanted in Arkansas on a robbery warrant, was booked into the Pierce County Jail on Tuesday and is under investigation for helping Clemmons after the officers were slain in a Parkland coffee shop. Clemmons, 37, was shot and killed by a Seattle police officer Tuesday.
In probable-cause documents, Allen is quoted as telling detectives he drove Clemmons in a pickup to a carwash two blocks from the coffee shop. But he claims he stayed behind and smoked a cigar at the carwash and didn't know what happened when Clemmons walked away for a while.
Clemmons returned to the carwash complaining he had been shot. Allen told detectives the pair drove a short distance before he decided he wanted "no part of this" and got out of the truck, the documents allege.
If police determine Allen knew of Clemmons' plans, he could be charged with the murders of the four officers, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office. He is being held on fugitive and probation-violation warrants out of Arkansas as Pierce County detectives try to build a murder case against him.
During his court appearance Wednesday, Allen told a judge he was "blind" about the allegations against him. As the shackled Allen was led out of the courtroom, he turned toward members of the media and said, "Help me."
Allen is one of six people accused of helping Clemmons while he eluded police after the four officers were shot.
On Wednesday, Letrecia Nelson, 52, and Quiana Maylea Williams, 26, appeared in court and were each ordered held on $500,000 bail on allegations that they, along with Allen, provided help to Clemmons.
Williams, a friend of Clemmons, bought peroxide, gauze and bandage material to treat a gunshot wound Clemmons suffered when one of the Lakewood officers returned fire in the coffee shop, according to probable-cause documents. She also drove Clemmons to Seattle, the documents say.
Nelson, Clemmons' aunt, directed another relative to turn car keys and money over to Clemmons shortly after the Lakewood officers were killed, the documents allege.
When the relative said it "ain't right" not to call police, Nelson responded, "It ain't right, but family's more important," according to the documents.
The newly filed court documents also allege Clemmons told people, including Allen, on Thanksgiving Day that he planned to kill cops, children at a school and as many people as he could at an intersection.
Allen and Clemmons served prison time together in Arkansas in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Clemmons spent two stints for robbery, burglary and theft. Allen, convicted of murder in the 1990 killings of two people at a liquor store, served 14 years of a 25-year sentence before being paroled in December 2005.
A fugitive warrant naming Allen for his alleged role in the March 22 robbery of a Bank of America branch in Arkansas was issued April 28, according to court records in Little Rock.
In June, he was stopped by a Pierce County sheriff's deputy and cited for driving without a valid license and making false statements. The deputy didn't find any information on the warrant because it had not been entered in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer, Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said Wednesday.
The warrant would have allowed the deputy to take Allen into custody and hold him for Arkansas authorities.
But Little Rock police never entered the warrant into the NCIC system because investigators had no reason to believe Allen had left the state, said Lt. Terry Hastings, the department's spokesman.
Allen's name was put in Arkansas' crime-information computer system, Hastings said.
It wasn't entered into the national system until Wednesday morning, after it became known Allen was in Washington, Hastings said.
Troyer faulted Little Rock police for not entering the NCIC information until 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, the latest criticism of Arkansas authorities who have faced questions since Sunday over not taking adequate steps to keep Clemmons locked up.
"They did it now because the pressure is on them," Troyer said. "That's par for the course with what's been going on."
Allen is believed to be one of two men who entered a Little Rock branch of Bank of America with handguns and ordered customers to the floor. One of the men jumped over the counter and took money while the other, armed with a silver handgun, threatened clerks and customers, according to court documents.
Allen's murder convictions stem from the slayings of two people in a liquor-store slaying in Pulaski County, Ark., in 1990, according to a story at the time in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper.
Killed were store owner Thomas Findley, 61, and clerk Charlotte Fowler, 41, the newspaper reported.
Allen, then 19, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of first-degree murder in January 1991 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison, the newspaper reported. He originally had been charged with two counts of capital murder, aggravated robbery and theft.
The reduced charge and sentence allowed Allen, with good behavior, to qualify for parole in fewer than seven years, the newspaper reported.
According to statements at that time by the five defendants to police, two men entered the store while Allen and two others waited outside in a stolen car, the newspaper reported.
The state's case against Allen was considered the weakest of the five, but was bolstered by the guilty plea of a co-defendant who agreed to testify for the prosecution, according to the newspaper.
Allen told Circuit Judge John Langston in Arkansas he was aware a robbery was planned and that he shared in the proceeds of the crime, the newspaper reported. He said he had been drinking all day, but knew the two men who entered the store had guns and that he was sober enough to make a decision to end his participation.
Seattle Times reporter Mike Carter reported from Little Rock, Ark. Times news researchers Miyoko Wolf and David Turim contributed to this story
Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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