Q13 FOX News Online
4:51 PM EDT, April 13, 2010
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced Tuesday that no criminal charges would be filed against the Seattle police officer who fatally shot Maurice Clemmons last December.
Last Wednesday, an inquest jury ruled unanimously the officer believed he was in imminent danger when he fired on Clemmons, who was on the run after ambushing and killing four Lakewood police officers in Pierce County.
After an inquest, the prosecutor conducts a separate review to determine whether any criminal charges are warranted.
"Seattle Police Officer Benjamin Kelly was performing his duty as a police officer when he responded to Maurice Clemmons with deadly force. Clemmons was a danger to Kelly, other members of law enforcement and the general public. Officer Kelly should be recognized for his courage in response to a dangerous situation," Satterberg said.
Officer Kelly took the stand last week and told the jury he was on the lookout for a vehicle that was reported stolen. When he investigated the vehicle, Ofc. Kelly says he found a silver Acura with its hood up and the car running. No one was inside the vehicle at the time.
He then pointed at a map of the Seattle neighborhood where the car was located. Ofc. Kelly told the jury he had witnessed a male with a hooded sweatshirt on, with his head down, walking toward his patrol car as it was parked nearby. Ofc. Kelly said he thought it was strange because it was obvious the man was trying to contact him.
He said he got out of his patrol car to approach the man. As he turned to address, he immediately recognized him as Maurice Clemmons. He described how the mole on his face and the height and weight of the man fit the description of Clemmons.
Ofc. Kelly says, "He moved his hands up to his waistband area and started to turn away from me."
He was asked why he pulled his weapon out. Ofc. Kelly responded by saying he recognized Clemmons as armed and dangerous and believed he was going for his gun.
"At the time you fired, did you believe your life was in danger?" Ofc. Kelly responded, "Yes, why, I believed that he was going to access a firearm."
He continued, saying, "I believed that he was running to a location to get cover so he could come back and attack me from any location along the north side of that street."
An inquest is standard in King County in fatal police shootings and will help the prosecutor decide whether to file a charge. The main question is whether the officer feared for his life when he used deadly force.
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