An "accidental discharge" is how Washington State Patrol Det. Lee Slemp classified his shooting of an unarmed pregnant woman during a drug raid last September. Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker and WSP apparently agree, as no charges will be filed against Slemp and he will return to his job this week.
The incident went down Sept. 24 at 1405 N. Lincoln St. in Spokane. Officers with the Quad Cities Drug Task Force had broken into a house as part of a crack-cocaine drug raid, and 24-year-old Keamia D. Powell was inside.
Slemp had his gun drawn as he entered. When he saw nine-months-pregnant Powell trying to escape out a window, he pulled the trigger. The woman was rushed to the hospital, where doctors were able to induce labor and save her and her child. Afterward, Powell was charged with four drug-related felonies. Slemp later said the shot was an accident.
KHQ reports that Spokane County officials confirmed Tuesday that no charges would be filed against Slemp, who'll now work a desk job at the department until an internal investigation is completed.
The lack of criminal charges, in the end, isn't surprising. As Seattleites know well from the John T. Williams case, convicting a law-enforcement officer in the state of Washington requires proof that they acted with the intention of committing a crime. Simply having the excuse that it was an accident would almost surely be enough to get him acquitted in a trial.
As for Slemp's reassignment to desk duty, WSP spokesman Bob Calkins went out of his way to make sure people knew that he wasn't being punished, but simply waiting out the time until the troopers carried out their investigation.
Calkins said, "This is not a demotion. This is simply a job where he's not out on the street interacting with the public until we complete the internal investigation."