Praise for Seattle officer who stopped Clemmons

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by LORI MATSUKAWA / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on December 1, 2009 at 10:45 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 1 at 11:39 PM

SEATTLE – The police officer who encountered suspected Lakewood police killer Maurice Clemmons is being praised by his supervisors and colleagues.

The 39-year-old has asked that his name and picture not be publicized. KING 5 News is honoring that request.

Seattle Police Officer's Guild President Rich O'Neill says the stolen car with the hood and the motor running, which the officer spotted early Tuesday, could have been a trap for a cop. But while writing up the vehicle, the officer from the South Precinct noticed someone approaching him from behind his rear view mirror.

"He keeps working and looking and he's walking towards him instead of away from him, and he thought. 'Oh!,' and decides to get out of the car," said O'Neill.

Clemmons was just eight feet away.

"He said it was just chilling because he said he kind of turned and they were eye to eye. And he saw the mole and he said he had a hood up and when he looked in his eyes, he said 'I knew. That's him,'" said O'Neill.

The officer says the man put a hand to his waistband.

"The officer's screaming, 'Show me your hand. Show me your hand.' and he's doing his actions. Here, the officer felt his life was threatened," said O'Neill. "The officer said, "I just knew he was going to do me harm.'"

Shots were fired. At least two hit Clemmons.

"The whole time, the officer had a little bit of difficulty getting his transmission over the air," said O'Neill.

Clemmons stumbled and dropped onto a walkway. By the time medics arrived, he was dead.

O'Neill says the officer did what he had to do.

"Incredibly humble. Would bristle at the fact that he's being called a hero but, in my book, that's exactly what he is," said O'Neill.

The officer is on administrative leave, which is standard operating procedure after a police-involved shooting like this.

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