Inquest called for in death of police killer

January 15, 2010 

King County Executive Dow Constantine plans to call for an inquest into the fatal shooting of Maurice Clemmons, who killed four Lakewood police officers Nov. 29.

In King County, an inquest is a regular procedure in deaths involving a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.

Seattle police officer Benjamin Kelly shot Clemmons to death Dec. 1 in South Seattle, ending a two-day manhunt that began after Clemmons gunned down the Lakewood police officers in a Parkland coffee shop.

The fact-finding session will involve a prosecutor, a District Court judge and a six-member jury that will listen to testimony about the shooting. The city will provide Kelly with an attorney, and Clemmons’ family also might have a lawyer present.

One potential question for jurors is “whether they believe the officer had a reason to fear for his own safety,” prosecutor spokesman Dan Donohoe said.

Constantine most likely will make an official announcement about the inquest today, spokeswoman Christine Lange said.

Joyce Chen, The News Tribune

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