‘He always saw good.’ Daughter mourning father killed by Auburn police officer in Interbay crash

SEATTLE — Less than two hours before he was hit and killed by an off-duty Auburn police officer, Clifford Jones was thinking of his grandkids, according to his daughter.

“At 9:43 p.m. (on April 23), he had messaged my kids, talking about how he just got them a portable speaker. (He said) it was really cool and he couldn’t wait to give it to them the next morning,” Miranda Hartman, Jones’ daughter, said.

Before Clifford had a chance to give that gift to his grandkids, he was killed after being hit by Smith’s car.

Detectives believe he was walking on the sidewalk or at the end of a crosswalk on 15th Avenue before he was hit and thrown onto Gilman Drive, according to court documents.

Michael Smith was arrested by Seattle Police and booked into the King County Jail. A judge found probable cause to charge him with vehicular homicide and hit-and-run. He posted bond, was released from jail, and is due back in court on Wednesday.


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Smith attended Central Washington University, enlisted in the Army, worked for UW Police, and was hired by the Auburn Police Department last year, according to a social media post by the agency.

Prosecutors said the fatal crash was the second of two crimes Smith allegedly committed on April 23.

On Saturday night, a cab driver called 911 after he was hit by a vehicle driven by Smith, according to court documents. The cab driver accused Smith of trying to “open his door and fight him,” court documents show.

A passenger in the cab identified Smith to detectives, stating he “tried to pull her cab driver out of his vehicle from the passenger side. Smith was unsuccessful. Smith walked to the driver’s door and tried to pull her driver out. Smith was again unsuccessful. Smith walked back to his vehicle and sped off northbound,” according to court documents.

A witness told detectives she saw Smith driving and “estimated the vehicle’s speed to be 90 mph,” according to court documents.

Another witness saw Smith’s car “‘overcorrect’ and start skidding sideways before hitting (a) berm,” according to court documents.

Smith stayed at the scene, according to court documents. A Seattle police officer noted “Smith’s eyes were bloodshot and watery. Smith smelled of alcohol. Smith admitted to me he had been drinking mixed drinks. Specifically two. As Smith spoke, I noted his speech was slurred. I asked Smith if he felt buzzed. Smith told me he wished to remain silent,” according to court documents.

Smith was arrested for DUI after refusing a field sobriety test, court documents show.

Hartman said she found out her father was dead after the county medical examiners called her on Monday morning.

“The next morning, he was supposed to come back to my place and see his grandkids,” Hartman said. “None of us got to say goodbye. It’s not fair. It’s not OK.”

Hartman said her feelings changed after she found out the driver who killed her father was an Auburn police officer.

“They take a pledge into the service, swearing that they will serve and protect us citizens. For an officer to do what he did Saturday night, and the incident that happened right before he struck my dad, is absurd,” Hartman said. “He took one life and tried to assault another life. He could’ve hurt many more people that night the way he was driving.”

Hartman said Jones was like a best friend, adding that she was grateful to have had Jones as her father. She said he was in the Marines and previously attended Edmonds College.

“He was my protector, that’s for sure,” Hartman said. “He was a good man. Warm-hearted. Genuinely, one hundred percent true to his word. Solid man. He cared about everybody... He always saw good, no matter what the person did. He always made sure, ‘Hey, before anyone talks or does anything, just listen to their side of the story, because we’re just human. Everybody makes mistakes.’ He gave everyone a chance.”

Hartman said she’s hoping for justice, while expressing frustration that Smith posted bond and was released from the King County Correctional Facility.

“He did this,” Hartman said. “It doesn’t matter if he has a badge or not, if he was an officer or not, a nurse, a doctor, an attorney. I don’t care who he is. The fact is he’s another person just like everybody else… He took a pledge into law enforcement saying he was going to protect and serve. And he did far from that.”

Smith is due back in court on Wednesday.