Department of Defense Police Officer Arrested for Murder

December 18, 2003

Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton; Captain Al Michelena, Commanding Officer, Robbery-Homicide Division, Robbery-Homicide Division Detectives
News Conference
Thursday, December 18, 2003
4:00 p.m.
Parker Center
150 North Los Angeles Street
Los Angeles

Los Angeles: On June 29, 1987, at 2:00 p.m., 21 year-old Jade Clark was sitting in the driver’s seat of his customized 1984 Nissan 300 ZX that was parked in front of 845 North Highland Avenue. A friend of Mr. Clark’s was sitting in the passenger seat. Two suspects approached the car (one on each side) and the suspect on the driver’s side pointed a gun at Clark and ordered him out of the vehicle. In response, Jade Clark retrieved a .25 caliber handgun from under the seat and pointed it at the armed suspect. As this was occurring, the second suspect opened the passenger door, pulled Clark’s companion from the car, and held him from behind. Clark’s companion was able to break free from the second suspect and he heard several shots as he ran from the scene. Clark’s companion returned to the car and found that Clark was still in the driver’s seat and he had been shot. Emergency personnel were summoned and Mr. Clark was transported to Cedars Sinai Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Detectives Rick Jackson and Ron Ito, Hollywood Detectives, were assigned the investigative responsibilities for this murder. During their investigation, they recovered a .25 caliber bullet from the ground next to Clark’s vehicle. This bullet was determined to have been fired from Clark’s gun and it was the detectives’ belief that the suspect responsible for this murder had himself been shot. During their investigation, the detectives developed information that implicated 22 year-old Pierre Alphonse Romain in this crime. Pierre Romain was a Rolling 60’s gang member who had recently crashed his friend’s car. This car was the same make, model and had the same customization, as Clark’s vehicle. Detectives prepared search and arrest warrants for Romain and a second male suspect believed to be the co-suspect.
On July 28, 1987, Romain and the second suspect were arrested and the search warrants were served. During the service of the search warrants, detectives recovered an empty holster and receipts for ammunition of the same caliber that was used in the murder. Also recovered was a photograph of Romain posed in front of a white car; this car was consistent with the description of the car that witnesses had seen fleeing the crime scene. The car was located and tire impressions from the car were consistent with acceleration skids found at the crime scene. When Romain was taken into custody, the detectives observed that he had two, in-line, circular wounds on the inside of his right forearm. A forensic pathologist examined these wounds and he opined that they were consistent with a small caliber bullet wound (however, the pathologist could not rule out other possible means by which Romain could have sustained these injuries).
On August 27, 1987, a criminal filing was obtained against both Romain and the co-suspect for the murder of Jade Clark. Both defendants were held to answer at a preliminary hearing. However, the case was later dismissed by in Superior Court after a 995 Motion (citing insufficient evidence to proceed to trial) was filed by Romain’s attorney.
During the original forensic investigation, it was determined that there was blood and human tissue on the .25 caliber bullet that was believed to have struck the suspect; however, DNA testing had not yet been developed so there were no available tests that could link this bullet to the murder suspect.
In May of 2003, Detective Rick Jackson was assigned to the Robbery-Homicide Division’s Cold Case Homicide Unit, when he received a telephone call from background investigators from the San Francisco Police Department. These investigators informed Jackson that they wanted information from the Jade Clark murder case because Pierre Romain was applying for a police officer position. These background investigators also informed Jackson that Pierre Romain was currently a law enforcement officer and held the position of Sergeant with the Department of Defense Police at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in the City of El Segundo. At the time of his 1987 arrest, Pierre Romain was an active candidate for a police officer job with the Los Angeles Police Department, but was disqualified as a candidate. Before becoming a Federal police officer, Romain had applied to over a dozen other agencies.
The telephone call from the San Francisco Police Department prompted Detective Jackson and his partner, Detective Tim Marcia to reexamine the physical evidence in the Jade Clark murder. Criminalists from the Serology Section of the Los Angeles Police Department examined the tissue from the recovered .25 caliber bullet and determined that it was amenable to modern DNA analysis. This tissue was submitted to Orchid-Cellmark Laboratories for analysis and they were able to obtain a full, 13-loci, DNA profile. On December 15, 2003, detectives collected DNA reference samples from Pierre Romain pursuant to a search warrant.
This reference sample from Pierre Romain was submitted to Long Beach Genetics for analysis. On December 17, 2003, Long Beach Genetics completed their analysis and it was determined that Romain’s DNA profile matched the one obtained from the .25 caliber bullet recovered from the crime scene. On December 17, 2003, Deputy District Attorney Ellen Aragon filed a criminal complaint charging Romain with one count of murder with a "special circumstances" allegation of robbery. On December 17, 2003, at 4:30 p.m., Romain was taken into custody pursuant to an arrest warrant.
Pierre Romain was booked at LAPD’s Jail Division and was scheduled to appear for arraignment in Division-30 on December 18, 2003.
This news advisory was prepared by Public Information Officer Adriana N. Sanchez, Media Relations Section, at 213-485-3586.