SPOKANE, Wash. -- The daughter of a Spokane Police Officer came home Thursday night from the hospital after she accidentally shot herself in the leg with her father's police-issued gun on Eastern Sunday. Officer Barry O'Connell is still under criminal investigation by the Spokane County Sheriff's for the incident.
He could also face potentially further punishment by the Police Department since policy requires service weapons to be secure. They will also consider O'Connell's lengthy disciplinary record which Spokane Interim Police Chief Scott Stephens described as "more involved than other officers."
The first complaint was lodged in 1994 and the last one was lodged in 2010. The most serious incidents - for which O'Connell had two lengthy suspensions - happened with the last three years. Most recently, in 2010, he was suspended for two weeks for Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer as well as Insubordination. In 2009, O'Connell was suspended for a week after someone within the department accused him of Sexual Harassment and Improper Conduct. Both of the suspensions were unpaid.
He's also received counseling and verbal and written reprimands for several other incidents.
"I think that shows a pattern of being involved in misconduct but the misconduct is not of a patterned nature if that makes sense," Stephens said. "If anything there's a pattern of poor judgement?"
The list does not provide details about the incidents themselves or what led to the investigations. At the department, Stephens said the discipline dolled out is progressive, which is why O'Connell was suspended for two weeks after the most recent internal affairs investigation. Keep in mind, former Chief Anne Kirkpatrick was the person responsible for deciding upon O'Connell's discipline regarding these incidents.
However, when does a list of disciplinary actions become too much?
"That's a great question and one we ask ourselves all the time: how much is too much?" Stephens continued. "I want to make sure that when I'm making my decisions, they're firmly based on labor laws, and that I can justify precisely what I'm doing and that the sentence fits the offense - that the discipline meets the misconduct."
At this point, Chief Stephens said he is waiting until the Sheriff's Office investigation is complete before he begins the internal affairs investigation.
Stephens added, "I will manage this appropriately. I will do what's right."
Friday, June 14 2013 1:16 PM EDT2013-06-14 17:16:21 GMT
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