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Saturday, April 4, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Officer whose daughter shot self had 2 lengthy suspensions

Shooting was with father’s service weapon


The Spokane police officer whose daughter accidentally shot herself in the leg on Sunday has an extensive disciplinary record, including at least two lengthy suspensions.

Barry O’Connell, who has been on the force since 1994, could face further punishment for the shooting because his daughter shot herself with O’Connell’s service gun, and police policy requires weapons to be secure.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office also has opened a criminal investigation into the case.

A list of previous disciplinary actions taken against O’Connell was released Tuesday by the police department, but it doesn’t provide details about any of the incidents that led to punishments or investigations.

He was suspended for 80 hours in 2010 for “conduct unbecoming” of an officer and insubordination, in part related to the “confidentiality of investigations and personnel files.” He was suspended in 2009 for 40 hours after he was accused of sexual harassment and “improper conduct.” Both of the suspensions were unpaid, Spokane police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said.

Additionally, he has received counseling or verbal reprimands related to four incidents and three written reprimands.

The girl was at a gathering with family and friends on Sunday when she shot herself at the O’Connell’s home. Records show that O’Connell lives in the Southgate Neighborhood in southeast Spokane.

O’Connell has declined to comment to the media about the incident or his internal affairs record through a union representative, said Marlene Feist, city spokeswoman.

Officials said on Tuesday that the girl was hospitalized and was expected to be sent home soon. The police department said Tuesday that the girl is 10 years old.

It was unclear Wednesday afternoon if O’Connell’s daughter had been released from the hospital. Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center said it could not release information about her condition.

Watch reporter Jonathan Brunt discuss this story with KHQ’s Dave Cotton

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.

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