By Eric Stevick Herald Writer
MARYSVILLE — A Marysville police officer whose 3-year-old son found his father’s handgun and killed his sister has been fired.
The decision to terminate Derek Carlile’s employment followed a lengthy internal investigation by the Marysville Police Department.
Last year, Snohomish County prosecutors dropped a criminal case against the Marysville patrol officer after a judge declared a mistrial when a jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Seven of 12 jurors voted to acquit Carlile of second-degree manslaughter.
In a written statement released Monday, city spokesman Doug Buell said: “As a result of the findings of a police department internal affairs investigation, Derek Carlile’s employment with the city of Marysville has been terminated, effective immediately. Because the nature of this release regards a personnel matter, no further comment by the city of Marysville will be made.”
Carlile can appeal the decision through a grievance procedure outlined in the police union contract, Marysville police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux said. The appeal, which must be filed within 60 days, would go through the city manager.
If that fails, he can file for arbitration with the Public Employment Relations Commission.
There was no indication on Monday whether Carlile plans to appeal.
Neither the police union nor Carlile’s attorney during the criminal trial responded to messages seeking comment Monday.
The internal investigation began after the criminal trial in November.
“We are not making any comments at all on the internal investigation,” Lamoureux said.
Prosecutors accused Carlile of manslaughter, saying he acted with negligence on March 10, 2012, when he left a loaded .38 caliber handgun within reach of his four children, ages 1 to 7, while they were briefly left alone in the family van.
Carlile also failed to engage the gun’s locking safety, or to store his off-duty weapon in the locking compartment on the driver’s door. He usually wore the gun in a holster on his ankle.
The officer, his wife and children were on their way to a wedding, when they stopped to talk with a family friend. They were standing nearby when the fatal shot was fired.
Prosecutors told the jury that their 3-year-old son was fascinated with guns and grabbed his father’s revolver from a cup holder next to the driver’s seat.
Carlile attempted life-saving efforts. Jenna, 7, died at the hospital. She was a student at Utsalady Elementary School on Camano Island, where the family lived.
At trial, Carlile wept when witnesses described what happened that day. His attorney argued that the distraught father made a tragic mistake, but did not commit a crime.
The Marysville Police Department placed Carlile on administrative leave immediately after the shooting. City officials promised a thorough review of the incident to determine if he had violated department policies.
Carlile became a police officer in 2009. During the criminal investigation, detectives obtained a copy of a firearms study guide from the state’s police academy, where Carlile received his training. One of the chapters addresses concerns about children and firearms safety, listing some common misconceptions, including the ideas that children don’t know how guns work or they aren’t strong enough to use them, court papers said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org.