Marysville cop charged in accidental death of daughter

Marysville cop charged in accidental death of daughter »Play Video
MARYSVILLE, Wash. -- Prosecutors have charged a Marysville police officer whose daughter was fatally injured in an accidental shooting in March.

Derek Carlile, 31, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of 7-year-old Jenna Carlile.

"It is a decision that detectives with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Unit who investigated the incident, agrees is supported by evidence," said Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe in a written statement.

Carlile was off-duty and headed to a wedding with his wife and children when they stopped at an art studio in Stanwood last month. Carlile and his wife got out of the family van to drop off business cards, according to the police report.

"He wasn't acting as a police officer at the time," Roe said. "He was just a dad in a hurry."

Carlile said he "heard a 'pop'" and rushed back to the van where he "noticed his oldest daughter...slumped to the side with a stare in her eyes. He noticed blood," the report said.

Investigators say one of Carlile's children found his gun in a cubby hole under the van's dashboard and shot the girls in the back seat. Even though Carlile began life-saving efforts immediately, the girl died at the hospital the following day.

The deputy who filed the police report noted Carlile said normally, the "weapon was kept in an ankle holster that he usually keeps on his ankle." It is still unclear why the weapon was in the cubby hole that day.

The prosecutor's office says Carlile's 3-year-old was fascinated by guns -- he often talked about them and climbed on the family gun safe. And Roe says he expects criticism from police supporters after charging an officer and digging into the family's life.

But Roe says under the law, it was essentially irrelevant that Carlile had a badge -- off-duty or otherwise.

"I would have made the same decision whether the person was a plumber, a librarian or worked at Boeing," Roe said.

The attorneys representing Carlile issued a written statement expressing disappointment over the prosecutor's decision.

"This is a double tragedy for the Carlile family that not only lost Jenna, but now also faces the possibility of losing Derek to prison if the prosecution is successful," said attorneys David Allen and Cooper Offenbecher. "While he takes full responsibility for this tragic accident, his actions were not criminal and he intends to vigorously defend the charges."

Carlile was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. He is scheduled to be arraigned on June 5.

Second degree manslaughter carries a prison term of 22 to 27 months.