Shawn Kemp Charged With First-Degree Assault in Shooting
Shawn Kemp, a former N.B.A. star, has been charged with first-degree assault in Washington State, where Pierce County prosecutors said he was involved in a shooting at a mall in Tacoma last month.
Kemp, 53, plans to plead not guilty, according to a statement by his criminal defense lawyers, Tim Leary and Aaron Kiviat. His arraignment is scheduled for May 4.
“He has been fully cooperative with the police and the prosecutor’s office throughout this process,” Kemp’s lawyers said in a statement. “He is confident that once the jury hears from the witnesses and sees the evidence at trial, they will conclude that he was justified in defending himself that afternoon.”
On March 8, Tacoma police officers arrested Kemp after shots were fired in a parking lot at Tacoma Mall around 2 p.m. He was released from jail a day later, after the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office decided not to charge him immediately, pending an investigation. At the time, the police said no one was injured in the shooting.
On Friday, Pierce County prosecutors charged Kemp with first-degree assault with a firearms enhancement. In a charging document released by the prosecutor’s office, the police said Kemp was seen on video surveillance footage leaving his car, removing something from inside a backpack and walking toward another vehicle in the lot. The police said they found a round where he was standing by a car that had a “suspected bullet hole on the roof.”
According to the police, footage showed Kemp pointing a gun at an occupied vehicle; the police guessed that Kemp had fired at the vehicle’s driver, who they said could be seen ducking in the video footage. The police said that they found a gun in the parking lot and that Kemp told them he had thrown a gun into the bushes.
Neither Leary nor Kiviat responded to specific questions about the police’s version of events.
Another one of Kemp’s lawyers, W. Scott Boatman, said last month in a statement to ESPN and The Associated Press that Kemp had only returned fire after being shot at. Boatman said Kemp’s car had been broken into and several of his items were stolen, leading him to track his iPhone to the parking lot where the incident occurred.
Boatman said the people in the vehicle shot at Kemp after he confronted them and Kemp then fired back. Boatman called Kemp’s actions “reasonable and legally justified.”
In a charging document for Kemp, the police said they were able to identify the driver of the other vehicle, but they do not know where that person is.
Kemp played in the N.B.A. from 1989 to 2003 and was a six-time All-Star. He began his career with the Seattle SuperSonics and also played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Orlando Magic. Since his retirement, he has opened two cannabis stores that bear his name in Seattle, where recreational marijuana use has been legal since 2012.