[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]
I’ve yet to come across a news report on the suicide of Detective Susan Clemmer that failed to mention her role as a defense witness in the trials of the four LAPD officers accused of beating Rodney King. And I’ve also yet to come across a news report that accurately described her experiences during that time, to wit, the disgraceful manner in which she was treated by LAPD internal affairs investigators and FBI agents.
Clemmer was still a probationary, i.e. a rookie, police officer in March 1991when King was subdued at the end of high-speed pursuit. She did not participate in the arrest itself but rode in an ambulance with King as he was taken to a hospital. She later testified that King appeared to be under the influence of drugs, possibly PCP, and that her fellow officers were genuinely frightened of King during their encounter with him. She testified to these facts despite repeated threats of dire consequences if she refused to provide incriminating testimony against the defendant officers. LAPD investigators and FBI agents took advantage of her youth and inexperience, violating her rights by interviewing her without a lawyer or employee representative, and threatening her with being fired at least and imprisoned at worst if she did not change her story.
She did not change her story. She conducted herself honorably and testified truthfully, but those who knew her at the time saw how the ordeal changed her. She began to experience a series of health problems that continued to trouble her until the very day she took her own life.
Susan Clemmer was a good and honest cop, but more than that she was a dear, sweet soul. She deserved so much more in this life than came her way. May she find it in the next. Rest in peace.
Update: The comments to this post appear to have gone off the rails, at times to a distasteful degree. The petty, back-and-forth bickering is best left to other topics. The comments are now closed.