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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 1:16 am

Wash officer's daughter shot in leg with his gun

The Associated Press

The 10-year-old daughter of a veteran Spokane police officer was in stable condition after shooting herself in the leg on Easter with her father's duty weapon, authorities said.

Officer Barry O'Connell, an 18-year veteran of the Police Department, has taken time off to care for his daughter. When he returns, he will be assigned to desk duty while an investigation by Spokane County sheriff's detectives is under way, police said.

The girl was at the family home Sunday when she shot herself in the leg, sheriff's Deputy Craig Chamberlin said. She was taken to a hospital.

Detectives have not determined how she got the gun or where it was before the shooting, Chamberlin said.

"We are gathering all the facts to make a determination if there was anything criminal," he said.

After the sheriff's investigation is complete, O'Connell will face an internal Police Department investigation into possible policy violations, police Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said.

This is the fourth reported child shooting in seven weeks in Washington state and the second involving a law enforcement officer's child.

On March 10, the 7-year-old daughter of a Marysville police officer was killed when her brother found a gun in the family car. A Snohomish County sheriff's probe into that shooting, involving Officer Derek Carlile's daughter Jenna, is "still an open investigation," sheriff's Lt. Brent Speyer said Tuesday.

Jenna Carlile was shot with a gun belonging to the officer, but it wasn't his duty weapon, authorities have said.

Spokane police waited until Tuesday to announce the shooting to allow the sheriff's office to "have an opportunity to investigate" and to allow O'Connell to care for his daughter, Spokane Police Chief Scott Stephens told reporters.

Officers are required to keep their weapons secure, Stephens said. Spokane police-issued handguns are either .40- or .45-caliber, but The Spokesman-Review reported it was not immediately clear what type O'Connell had.

Sheriff's officers began their investigation Sunday, Chamberlin said, adding "it's hard to determine how long it will take."

The officer has been decorated multiple times and was honored in 2007 when he and a fellow officer rescued a man with a gunshot wound from an apartment building. But he also has a history of internal affairs investigations, police officials said Tuesday.

Stephens did not provide details of any internal investigations but told The Spokesman-Review there was nothing similar to the nature of the current investigation. DeRuwe did not immediately return a call from the AP.

In the other recent shootings, prosecutors have said the mother of 3-year-old Julio Segura-McIntosh left him unrestrained March 14 in a car in Tacoma after she placed a pistol under the driver's seat. The boy fatally shot himself in the head when the woman went to get food.

The mother, Jahnisha McIntosh, 23, and her boyfriend, Eric Vita, 22, have both pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter charges.

On Feb. 22, an 8-year-old girl was critically wounded by a gun that went off in a classmate's backpack in a Bremerton school.

The girl, Amina Kocer-Bowman, was released April 3 from a Seattle hospital. The 9-year-old boy who brought the gun to school has written her an apology letter as part of the sentence he received when he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from the shooting.

The Kitsap County prosecutor has charged that boy's mother and her boyfriend with felony assault, saying they negligently allowed the boy access to the gun. They have pleaded not guilty.