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Officer to serve three-week suspension

Thu., July 26, 2012, midnight

Daughter shot self in leg with service weapon

The Spokane police officer whose daughter accidentally shot herself in the leg with his service weapon this spring will serve a three-week unpaid suspension 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 Chief Scott Stephens said in a news release Wednesday.

Spokane County prosecutors declined to charge him with a crime, but O’Connell 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 guests for Easter dinner in April, she accidentally shot herself in the leg 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 job performance issues that prompted past disciplinary actions.

Police officials suspended O’Connell without pay for 80 hours in 2010 for “conduct unbecoming” of an officer and insubordination, in part related to the “confidentiality of investigations and personnel files.”

The city also suspended him without pay in 2009 for 40 hours after he was accused of sexual harassment and “improper conduct.”

The department has conducted some 15 internal investigations of O’Connell. Of those, six followed 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.

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.

Stephens and O’Connell did not immediately respond to requests for interviews Wednesday.

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