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Sheriff’s Station suicide was LAPD detective, Valencia resident

Also was witness in infamous 1991 Rodney King trial

Posted: July 7, 2009 8:50 p.m.
Updated: July 8, 2009 4:55 a.m.

A Los Angeles Police Department gang detective who was a witness in the 1991 Rodney King beating fatally shot herself in the head in the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station lobby Monday night, officials confirmed Tuesday.

LAPD Detective Susan Clemmer, 41, of Valencia had worked in the department’s Gangs and Narcotics Division and has been on the force for 19 years.

About 9:15 p.m. on Monday, Clemmer walked into the station at the corner of Magic Mountain Parkway and Valencia Boulevard armed with a handgun.

She placed a box of personal items on the counter, spoke with two deputies, then stepped back and shot herself in the head, sheriff’s officials said.

Inside the box was some paperwork, including telephone numbers of friends and family, and letters, said Sheriff’s homicide Lt. Duane Harris.

Harris said deputies described her as “agitated” enough to worry them, but he couldn’t say about what.

“Obviously there were some issues, but nothing she talked about with the deputy,” Harris said.

Clemmer walked in and told a pregnant deputy she didn’t want to talk to her, said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore. A male deputy came out and spoke with her briefly. When the man walked into the back for a moment, they heard a gunshot. Clemmer was dead on the floor.

The pregnant deputy was rushed off in an ambulance, shaken by the incident.

Sgt. Darren Harris of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station said Tuesday the pregnant deputy did not suffer any complications.

Clemmer, an LAPD officer since August 1989, had testified in defense of the officers who infamously beat Rodney King on March 3, 1991.

She rode in the ambulance with King after his beating and testified he was laughing and spitting blood on her uniform.

After her suicide late Monday, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station shut down for the night. Los Angeles Police officials began arriving about an hour later.

Sheriff’s homicide detectives, who are handling the investigation, wouldn’t say whether Clemmer had used her police-issued handgun in the suicide.

On Tuesday morning, the station was back to business as usual. Nothing seemed out of place in the crowded lobby except for the noticeable odor of cleaning detergent.

Clemmer’s suicide marks the second in as many months at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. In June, a 60-year-old Canyon Country woman in one of the station’s holding cells on misdemeanor charges of battery on a peace officer hung herself from a vent in the cell using bedding.


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