TACOMA — The aftermath of the 2009 fatal shooting of four Lakewood police officers continues this week in Tacoma, as opening arguments were underway Monday afternoon in the retrial of the killer’s alleged getaway driver.
Dorcus Dewayne Allen, 51, is accused of driving Maurice Clemmons to and from a Parkland coffee shop where Clemmons shot and killed Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Gregory Richards and Ronald Owens in November 2009. The crime garnered national attention, and at the time, according to USA Today, it was one of the largest intentional killings of police officers since 9/11.
Clemmons was killed after an extensive manhunt, and others accused of aiding him have since been sentenced. But the case against Allen, also known as Darcus Allen, has continued after the state Supreme Court ruled there was prosecutorial misconduct during the closing arguments of Allen’s first trial in 2010. Based on previous reporting from The News Tribune and court records, here is a timeline of events in Allen’s case.
- March 2004: Maurice Clemmons, who was on parole for felony convictions in Arkansas, is permitted to move to Washington, and his parole is transferred to the Washington Department of Corrections.
- May 9, 2009: Clemmons assaults two Pierce County Sheriff’s Department deputies after they respond to a call about a disturbance near one of Clemmons’ homes in Parkland.
- Sept. 25: Clemmons is transported to Pierce County Jail from Snohomish County, where he was found in violation of parole. By now, he has been arraigned on charges of assault, malicious mischief and rape of a child in the second degree.
- Sept. 27: In phone calls from jail, Clemmons begins telling his brother that he plans on killing police officers. He says he plans on killing as many as he can until he can’t kill any more.
- Nov. 26: On Thanksgiving, Clemmons and Dorcus Allen go to the home of Clemmons’ aunt. While there, Clemmons tells everyone he intends to kill police officers, saying he plans to cut off his location-monitoring ankle bracelet to lure police to his door, where he would shoot them.
- Nov. 29, 8 a.m.: Clemmons goes to Allen’s residence, and Allen drives them to the Forza coffee shop in Parkland, where they see marked police cars outside.
- 8:07 a.m.: Allen parks at a self-serve car wash about a quarter-mile north of the coffee shop.
- 8:15 a.m.: Clemmons goes to the coffee shop and fatally shoots four Lakewood Police Department officers who had met there to start their patrol day. A struggle ensues during the shooting, and one of the officers shoots and injures Clemmons. Clemmons leaves after killing Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Gregory Richards and Ronald Owens.
- Dec. 1: Clemmons is shot and killed by a Seattle police officer following a manhunt. At 4:19 a.m., Allen and Clemmons’ sister, Latanya, are arrested at a motel in Federal Way.
- March 2, 2010: Allen is charged in Pierce County Superior Court with four counts of aggravated first-degree murder.
- May 19, 2011: A jury convicts Allen of four counts of first-degree murder after more than four days of deliberations.
- June 2011: Allen is sentenced to 420 years in prison by Pierce County Superior Court Judge Frederick Fleming.
- Jan. 15, 2015: The state Supreme Court rules in a 9-0 decision that Allen did not receive a fair trial. The court said a deputy prosecutor committed misconduct during closing arguments by repeatedly saying Allen “should have known” that Clemmons intended to kill the officers. That was a misstatement of the law, the high court ruled. The high court sent the case by to Pierce County Superior Court for a new trial.
- July 27, 2021: Prosecutors win an appeal to allow Allen to be retried with an aggravated sentencing factor. A three-judge panel of Division II of the Washington State Court of Appeals agrees with prosecutors that seeking the aggravating factor that the crime was knowingly committed against law enforcement didn’t amount to double jeopardy. That ruling could mean a sentence above the standard range if Allen is convicted again.
- Oct. 3, 2022: Opening arguments begin in Allen’s retrial.