The life of a decorated Marine and public servant was, “cut short far too soon” by a hit-and-run driver. At 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 5th, CHP Officer Brent Clearman, age 33, was investigating a minor traffic collision on the 66th Avenue on-ramp to I-880 in Oakland, when a passing vehicle struck him and sped away. Clearman suffered major injuries to his right arm, right leg and a number of internal organs, and was admitted to Highland Hospital in critical condition. Early the next morning he succumbed to his injuries. His supervisor, Captain James Leonard reported, “The medical staff at Highland did everything humanly and medically possible to save him, and I’m told that Brent fought.”
An Oakland man later turned himself in and was arrested and charged with felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter. Russell Rodrigues, 47, had been employed by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department for 15 years in a civilian position. He reportedly resigned from the department two years earlier for undisclosed reasons to avoid being fired.
In his brief career with the CHP, Officer Clearman made a big impact. Assigned to the Oakland Area on April 22, 2006, colleagues say Clearman thrived on getting criminals off the street. The month before his death, he and his partner arrested 33 people for drunken driving.
Clearman joined the CHP after a distinguished 12-year career in the Marine Corps, including two tours in Iraq. A sharpshooter and expert in mountaineering and mountain warfare, he left the Marines in 2003. Before joining the CHP, he trained snipers for law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Canada.
On August 10, 2006, a procession led from the Oakland CHP office to the Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord where Officer Clearman was honored by some 2,000 friends, family, fellow officers, and state and local dignitaries.
Speaking at the service, Commissioner Mike Brown asked that we all, “…remember Brent. Let us make this mean something to each and every one of us. And let us all pray it doesn’t happen again.”
FBI agent Art Scotto described Clearman as, “soft-spoken, respectful and reserved, but he wasn’t soft in any way.” Scotto, who became friends with Clearman while they served in the Marines, said when Clearman joined the CHP, he narrowed his assignment choices to Oakland and South Los Angeles because “he wanted a challenge”. Scotto described his friend as “a true leader. He went beyond the call. I am certain I will never meet another like you. Semper Fi, my friend.”
Although Officer Clearman’s family did not speak at the service, CHP Sgt. Jim Howarth read aloud a letter from Clearman’s mother. In the letter, Carol Clearman said her son’s life was “cut short far too soon.” She said her son “had many achievements, including duty, loyalty, courage, heroism and love for family and a happy marriage.” “Brent, I hope you know how much your father and I loved you and how proud we are of your accomplishments. But more important, of the outstanding way you lived your life.”
Officer Clearman is survived by his wife Cathy Jo, who is a CHP dispatcher, his parents William and Carol Clearman, and sisters Ann, Tara, Julie and Amy. Clearman was laid to rest at the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon, with full Marine honors.
Donations can be made to:
“Brent Clearman Memorial Fund”
c/o Oakland CHP
3601 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA 94609