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Memorial service held for LAPD detective Susan Clemmer

A life remembered

Posted: July 16, 2009 8:49 p.m.
Updated: July 17, 2009 8:55 a.m.

The LAPD Honor Guard folds a flag for the family members of LAPD Detective Susan Clemmer at memorial services held at the Eternal Valley mortuary chapel on Thursday. Clemmer killed herself in the lobby of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station on July 6.

 

Before her suicide, Los Angeles Police Department Detective Susan Clemmer had aced a job interview with Gangs and Narcotics Captain Kevin McCarthy, leaving him deeply impressed with her education, passion and talent.

He arrived at his office the next day to find a letter on his desk.

“It was from Susan, apologizing because she felt she had let me down in the (interview),” McCarthy recalled to more than 100 people gathered at Clemmer’s memorial service at the Eternal Valley mortuary chapel on Thursday. “She really thought she did a bad job in the interview, when, in fact, she couldn’t have done better.”

His was one of several stories told by colleagues and relatives that painted a picture of a sensitive and caring but guarded woman who always put others first and poured herself into her work.

Clemmer, 41, of Valencia, killed herself on July 6 in the lobby of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. It stunned those who knew her.

“She would never tell people if she was having a problem,” said Detective Lisa Wong, a close friend and detective in Clemmer’s unit.

Clemmer’s 19-year career with the Los Angeles Police Department began in the national spotlight.

She had been a key witness in the trials of the officers charged in the Rodney King beating that led to the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. The then-rookie beat officer rode with King in the ambulance and later testified that he was laughing and spat blood on her uniform.

The Milwaukee native moved with her family to El Paso, Texas and later the Santa Clarita Valley.

A photograph slideshow during the service traced Clemmer’s life:

In one, she was a tiny infant. Another, a little girl on Santa Claus’s lap. One photo showed her wearing an orange lifeguard uniform — she was an avid swimmer and a lifeguard at Castaic Lake.

Clemmer as a fresh-faced Los Angeles police officer posed for another shot. And, finally, she grinned proudly for the camera next to a “sold” sign in front of her Valencia home.

A cadre of LAPD officers honored Clemmer with a three-volley salute and presented a folded U.S. flag to her parents.

Her cousin, Rev. Susan Knowlton, spoke for the family and described her as a detective through and through, who enjoyed nothing more than spending holidays and playing games with her relatives. Her relatives and fellow police officers alike made reference to her smile.

“I have her smile and the rest of our squad will have her smile for the rest of our lives,” said Detective Kenny Bryant, who worked directly with her.

Bryant turned to Clemmer’s gray-haired mother and father, who sat quietly in the front row during the service.

“Thank you for allowing us to have Susan the time that we had her,” he said. “Thank you for sharing her with us.”

 

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