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Originally published March 9, 2011 at 10:01 PM | Page modified March 10, 2011 at 1:29 PM

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City to pay Clemmons' family $973,858 for damage to home

The city of Seattle has agreed to pay $973,858.75 to compensate a family whose home was severely damaged during the manhunt for Maurice Clemmons.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The city of Seattle has agreed to pay nearly $1 million to compensate a family whose home was severely damaged during the manhunt for Maurice Clemmons, according to a document released by the city's Risk Management Division.

The settlement culminates long-running negotiations between the city and the family of Chrisceda Clemmons, an aunt of Maurice Clemmons who alerted police when Clemmons asked her for help while he was on the run from authorities after killing four Lakewood police officers in the fall of 2009.

Upon learning of Maurice Clemmons' plans to seek refuge at his aunt's home, located in Seattle's Leschi neighborhood, Seattle police surrounded the home and fired dozens of tear-gas canisters into it, breaking windows, damaging furniture, destroying art and other property, and coating the walls and other surfaces with residue. Afterward, police entered the home to discover it was empty; Clemmons had bolted from the house just as officers began to cordon it off.

His aunt and other family members had left the home before he arrived, with Chrisceda Clemmons and her partner going to the Seattle Police Department's East Precinct to notify officers of her nephew's whereabouts.

Eight family members had been living in the house, but the damage was so great the home was no longer livable. It remains uninhabited.

In an agreement finalized last month, the city will pay Chrisceda Clemmons' family $973,858.75, according to a settlement overview released by the Risk Management Division. About $250,000 of that amount is designated for restoration of the house. The rest is to compensate the family for a host of expenses and losses, including rental payments for transitional housing, lost wages and damage to personal property.

Attaching a value to all that property proved to be a challenge because so many of the items were unique, said Bruce Hori, the city's director of risk management.

To evaluate Chrisceda Clemmons' African art collection, the city needed to find a special appraiser, Hori said. Other specialty items included rare books and custom-made musical instruments, including an array of steel drums.

"They weren't like you could run down to the Guitar Center and buy one," Hori said. "So getting to a price was not as easy as it would seem."

The restoration work will be so extensive that expenses will mount for various code upgrades, including electrical, plumbing and foundation work, Hori said.

Michael Shantz, Chrisceda Clemmons' partner, said Wednesday that members of the family would like to meet with one another and with their attorneys before releasing any statement about the settlement.

Maurice Clemmons walked into a Parkland coffee shop on Nov. 29, 2009, and opened fire, killing four Lakewood police officers. The ensuing manhunt for Clemmons lasted 40 hours, ending when a Seattle police officer shot and killed him in a South Seattle neighborhood.

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From the city's perspective, settling the family's claim also will benefit those people who live nearby.

"In light of the unique circumstances surrounding this particular event, and because the neighborhood and the community as a whole have a vested interest in restoring this property," the city decided to settle the claim rather than enter into prolonged litigation, the city's settlement document says.

Ken Armstrong: 206-464-3730 or karmstrong@seattletimes.com

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