May 4, 2012 in City

Spokane officer cleared in daughter’s shooting

Jacob Palmer The Spokesman-Review
 

The Spokane Police officer whose daughter shot herself with a service weapon on Easter Sunday will not be charged, Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Brian O’Brien confirmed Friday.

O’Brien said that he did not find sufficient grounds to justify charging Barry O’Connell with reckless endangerment. O’Connell’s daughter, 9, found and fired the officer’s service weapon, which was not secured, in the family’s master bedroom, while O’Connell entertained “quite a bit of people” for Easter dinner, according to the 911 call that was released Friday.

O’Connell could still face discipline from within the police department pending further Internal Affairs review, a police spokeswoman said.

“Now that the criminal investigation is complete, we will start looking at what happened,” Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said. “Every officer is held to a certain standard and we want to make sure that standard was upheld.”

DeRuwe also said it’s premature to speculate about possible disciplinary action.

According to records released by the department in mid-April, 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 insubordination.

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

O’Connell nearly immediately identified himself as a member of the Spokane Police force in the 911 call as he requested that an officer meet him at Sacred Heart Medical Center to take a report.

“I just scooped her up and ran her down here as fast as I could,” he said in the call.

The officer also indicated that his service weapon was still not secure during the call, saying that he needed “somebody to make it safe.”

O’Connell’s daughter was released from the hospital four days after the incident.

This case marked the fourth accidental shooting involving a child in the span of two months in Washington state.


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