PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. - It has been nearly 13 years since what was one of the worst police shootings in our region's history. The jury deliberating murder charges against the getaway driver for the shooter who killed four Lakewood Police officers announced they were deadlocked, ending in a mistrial for a second time.
Darcus Allen has been saying he did not know the shooter, Maurice Clemmons, was going to kill police that day, but Lakewood Police and prosecutors insist he did.
The shooting is still fresh in the memory for those closest to it, and to call this mistrial disappointing is an understatement.
"I was on my way to church," said former Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor. "I got a phone call saying four of our deputies had been killed. I didn’t know it was Lakewood PD."
Pastor says November 29, 2009 is a memory that cannot be erased. That is when Sgt. Mark Renninger and Officers Greg Richards, Tina Griswold and Ronald Owens were ambushed and murdered by Maurice Clemmons inside what was then Forza Coffee shop.
Pastor remembers the support shared by the South Sound community back then.
"That is tremendously important, he said. "That says I can go out and protect these people who want to be protected and look out for me, that the trust is reciprocal, that is strong."
"Our justice system should provide closure for victim families," said former Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. "Difficult when a case drags on for more than a decade."
It was Lindquist’s team who secured Allen’s conviction in 2011. But in 2015, the state Supreme Court ruled prosecutors committed misconduct by misstating the definition of an accomplice during closing arguments, and Allen was due a second jury trail. This Thursday, jurors ended in deadlock and the judge declared a mistrial.
Lindquist says he thought the latest prosecution had a good possibility of ending in a hung jury.
"We are more polarized than ever outside of the courtroom," he said. "It is not surprising to me that the polarization extends into the jury room."
Forza is now Blue Steele Coffee Company. The coffee shop and memorial in front is a testament to the South Sound’s resolve to bring justice for the four killed in the line of duty.
The facts of Allen’s case have not changed. Pastor hopes the support law enforcement received back in 2009 is as strong for Allen’s next trial.
"Let us hope that the message of a mistrial is not that well we wait a few years and we forget about it it’s not so sad anymore and other things are going on, maybe some cops deserve this," Pastor said. "Shame on us if ever we think that."
Allen’s attorney told FOX 13 News they insist Allen is innocent. They will meet with prosecutors in court Dec. 16 to schedule another trial.