07/07/2009

LAPD detective kills self at Calif. sheriff's station

Associated Press

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — A veteran Los Angeles police detective who testified at the Rodney King trial killed herself after walking into the lobby of a suburban sheriff's station, authorities said Tuesday.

Susan Clemmer, 41, was a gang narcotics officer who worked for the department for nearly 20 years, sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said. She was unmarried.

"She walked in with a box of personal items and placed it on the counter," Whitmore said.

He declined to describe the items because they are part of the investigation into the 9 p.m. Monday shooting at the Santa Clarita station, about 35 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, .

A pregnant deputy tried to help Clemmer before the shooting, but Clemmer wouldn't talk to her, Whitmore said. A male deputy did have a conversation with Clemmer.

"He was concerned about how she was behaving," Whitmore said. "The deputy left the lobby and heard a single gunshot."

The deputy returned and discovered the body of the detective, who was pronounced dead at the scene. No other deputies were hurt, and no other shots were fired, Whitmore said.

Clemmer, among the first witnesses to testify in the King trial, rode in the ambulance with King after his beating on March 3, 1991. She testified he was laughing and spitting blood on her uniform, and that she heard him cursing at officers after the beating.

She also testified that Officer Laurence Powell was breathless when she arrived just moments after the beating. Asked to relate Powell's remarks, she said she wasn't sure if he was talking to her or another policeman.

"He said, 'I was scared. The guy threw me off his back. I thought I was going to have to shoot him.'"

Powell and three other officers were later acquitted in the case, triggering three days of riots that left 55 dead and nearly 2,400 injured. Damages reached about $1 billion.

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