By Rikki King Herald Writer
MARYSVILLE — A Marysville police officer is challenging his firing after he left his handgun and his children unattended in the family van, leading to his 3-year-old son shooting and killing his 7-year-old daughter.
The Marysville Police Officers Association has filed a grievance on behalf of Derek Carlile. An arbitration hearing is set for October, City Administrator Gloria Hirashima said Monday. The dispute process is guided by the labor contract.
“The arbitrator makes a ruling and we will abide by that ruling,” she said.
On March 10, 2012, Carlile, his wife and their four children were heading to a wedding in Bothell from their home on Camano Island. They stopped at a Stanwood antiques shop, and the parents got out of the car.
Moments later, they heard a thud. Their daughter Jenna had been shot by her younger brother. The gun had been in the van’s cupholder, underneath some mail. Carlile typically kept the gun in his ankle holster. He told investigators he did not secure the weapon during the family’s rush that morning.
The Marysville Police Department also conducted an internal investigation. On May 6, the city announced that Carlile had been fired. No other information was given.
The Herald obtained the internal investigation under state public records laws. It was conducted by an outside party, a retired police leader from another county.
Carlile was fired for committing a negligent act, endangering himself or others, not promoting a positive image as a police officer and of conduct unbecoming a police officer, the records show.
The city also cited the public scrutiny after the shooting.
Carlile was offered a position as a code enforcement officer, which he declined. He wrote that he loved being a police officer and that he couldn’t see himself doing anything else. He’d been with the department about three years at the time of the shooting.
The termination letter signed by Mayor Jon Nehring called the firing “a very difficult decision.” Carlile also received more than 14 weeks of vacation pay.
The investigation called the incident an “aberration.” Carlile normally handled guns safely and he made a “singular mistake” with tragic consequences, the report said.
Still, that did not excuse his actions, according to a memo by Marysville Police Chief Rick Smith.
“While the investigator and the facts may make clear that this incident was an ‘aberration,’ the public expects law enforcement officers to understand and practice responsible firearms ownership. Which in this case, it means securing a firearm so that horrible accidents simply cannot occur,” the chief wrote.
The officers association declined to comment for this story.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org