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Originally published Monday, May 6, 2013 at 7:05 PM

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Marysville fires officer whose tot killed sister

Derek Carlile, whose daughter was fatally shot by his 3-year-old son after the officer left a loaded gun, and his four children, unattended in a van, has been fired from the Marysville Police Department.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A Marysville police officer whose daughter was fatally shot by his then-3-year-old son with a handgun left unattended in the family’s van has been fired, the city announced Monday.

Derek Carlile, 32, of Camano Island, had not returned to work since his 7-year-old daughter, Jenna, was killed on March 10, 2012, in Stanwood. He had been on paid administrative leave through two investigations, including an internal probe by the Marysville Police Department.

In a news release, the city said it would not discuss the termination because it was a personnel matter. The termination was effective immediately, according to the release.

Carlile and his family were in a rush to get to a wedding when they stopped off at a friend’s antiques shop in Stanwood, prosecutors said in charging documents filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Carlile and his wife got out of the van, leaving their four children, who were ages 1 through 7 at the time, alone inside.

Carlile’s son got out of his booster seat, made his way to the front of the van and found his father’s loaded .38-caliber revolver in a cup holder between the front seats, according to the charging papers and testimony at his trial.

The boy shot Jenna in the abdomen. She died later at a Seattle hospital.

After a lengthy investigation by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, prosecutors charged Carlile with second-degree manslaughter.

During his trial in November, Snohomish County prosecutors said Carlile was aware his son was fascinated with firearms but “failed to heed or be aware of a substantial risk that death would occur when he placed and left his loaded, unsecured revolver in an enclosed van with four children inside.”

Carlile’s attorney, David Allen, told jurors his client was a conscientious father who kept his firearms in a safe at home but that he was human and had made a “tragic mistake.” He argued that Carlile’s actions resulted from a “momentary lapse of judgment” but were not criminal.

Jurors deadlocked almost immediately, Allen said after the trial, and were unable to reach a unanimous decision. The jury split 7 to 4 in favor of acquittal, with one juror remaining undecided, and the judge declared a mistrial.

Prosecutors decided not to retry Carlile and asked a judge to dismiss the charge, saying they did not believe they would be able to find a jury that could reach a verdict.

Marysville police said a decision on Carlile’s fate as an officer would be made after an internal investigation into the circumstances of his child’s death.

A relative, who did not want to be named, said Monday that Carlile was devastated by the department’s decision to fire him but did not want to comment publicly.

“He wants to try to move on with his life now,” the relative said.

After the shooting, Marysville police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux said that Carlile, who had been on the force since 2009, was “an outstanding officer and a phenomenal person. He’s very caring about his community and about his job.” Many of Carlile’s colleagues attended his trial in his support.

However, another law-enforcement officer — a member of the team that investigated the shooting — said that while many investigators felt sorry for Carlile, most did not believe he could any longer be an effective law-enforcement officer.

“What kind of example can he be?” said the detective, who was talking in the hallway while Carlile’s jury deliberated and who asked not to be named. “Who sees the devastation of a careless moment more often than a police officer? Who knows more about how dangerous a gun can be?”

Christine Clarridge can be reached at 206-464-8983 or at cclarridge@seattletimes.com.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

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