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Officer suspended for daughter’s shooting

Spokane Police Officer Barry O'Connell. (File )
Spokane Police Officer Barry O'Connell. (File )

The Spokane police officer whose daughter accidentally shot herself in the leg with his service weapon this spring will be suspended for three weeks wihout pay following an internal investigation.

Officer Barry O’Connell failed to comply with department policy requiring officers to secure their duty weapons at home and with other rules that prohibit officers from acting willfully, carelessly or negligently with city property, Interim Police Chief Scott Stephens said in a news release today.

O’Connell also was found to have violated a civil service rule that prohibits officers from engaging in actions that might reasonably be expected to result in loss or injury to the city or the public.

As part of the discipline, O’Connell will be required to participate in an educational video about gun safety.

“Additionally, the discipline action also stipulates that an additional incident involving poor judgment will lead to termination,” city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said in the release.

O’Connell’s daughter, who was 10 at the time, found and fired her father’s gun, which was not secured, in the family’s master bedroom. While O’Connell entertained “quite a bit of people” for Easter dinner in April, she accidentally shot herself causing a non-life threatening wound, according to previously released documents.

City leaders also released personnel records at the time indicating that O’Connell has had numerous disciplinary actions in the past. He was suspended without pay for 40 hours after accusations of sexual harassment and ”improper conduct” were levied against him in 2009.

In 2010, he was suspended again — this time for 80 hours without pay — for “conduct unbecoming” an officer and for insubordination.

The 18-year veteran also has been decorated several times for acts of courage while on duty.

O’Connell earned about $78,000 as a police officer last year, including about $3,400 in overtime.

The department has investigated O’Connell 15 times, six of those for vehicle crashes. Four crashes were determined to have been preventable. He received a verbal warning, counseling and letter of reprimand for three of the preventable crashes.