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Marysville Police Chief discusses the shooting of officer's daughter

Marysville Police Chief Rick Smith addresses the press on the shooting death of Jenna Carlile, the 7-year-old daughter of Marysville Police Officer Derek Carlile. - Kirk Boxleitner
Marysville Police Chief Rick Smith addresses the press on the shooting death of Jenna Carlile, the 7-year-old daughter of Marysville Police Officer Derek Carlile.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — "This is one of the most difficult things I've ever been part of," Marysville Police Chief Rick Smith said in the wake of Jenna Carlile's shooting death.

Jenna was the 7-year-old daughter of Marysville Police Officer Derek Carlile, and she died on Sunday, March 11, at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, after receiving a gunshot wound to the torso the previous day.

On Saturday, March 10, Jenna sustained the wound after her sibling found a loaded gun in their parents' van, while it was parked near the Stanwood City Hall, and their parents were nearby but outside of the vehicle.

On Monday, March 12, Smith called a press conference to explain as much as he could of the situation, while also expressing support for the Carlile family. He thanked the medical professionals of Harborview and the Colby Campus of the Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett for their efforts on Jenna's behalf, and emphasized that the investigation into the shooting is being conducted by the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Unit. He also asked that the Carlile family not be contacted while they grieve Jenna's loss.

"So much is being done already," said Smith, when asked what community members could do to support the Carlile family.

Smith confirmed that Derek Carlile has been placed on administrative leave, pending the investigation into the shooting. Carlile is a 30-year-old patrol officer whose career in law enforcement began when he was sworn into the Marysville Police Department in 2009. He is one of 53 sworn officers in the police department.

"He is an excellent officer who is very proactive and loves his community," Smith said.

While Smith has spoken with Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick, he stressed that the Major Crimes Unit's investigation would be completely independent of the Marysville Police Department, which Smith pledged would offer its full cooperation. Smith also acknowledged that this case may or may not be referred to the Snohomish County Prosecutor's Office.

"I'm confident that this investigation will be conducted thoroughly, objectively and fairly, and be looked at like any other case," Smith said.

Aside from disclosing that Carlile's service weapon had not been turned over yet, Smith declined to offer many specifics on the case, and instead noted that it's common for officers to possess a sidearm and a rifle as part of their police-issued gear. Smith added that police officers must qualify for all their weapons.

When asked about how police officers are expected to secure their weapons, Smith clarified that each law enforcement agency has its own specific policies, but asserted his belief that all officers hold themselves to higher standards on that score. He likewise described the Marysville Police Department's gun safety practices as being under constant ongoing review.

Smith has spoken to Carlile twice since the shooting, once on March 10 in the hospital, and again after Jenna's passing the following day. Smith did not share what was discussed, but admitted that he had been emotionally affected as well.

"My heart goes out to him," Smith said. "You can probably hear it in my voice."

When asked about a departmental internal affairs investigation, Smith deemed it standard practice, but anticipated that it would proceed with a bit of a lag time behind the Major Crimes Unit's investigation.

"Nothing like this has happened since I've been here," said Smith, a five-year veteran of the Marysville Police Department, who has nonetheless dealt with at least one similar situation during his 23-year career in law enforcement. "That's why I'm aware of what information should and should not be released."

Smith concluded the press conference by assuring the community that its police department would continue to serve them to the utmost of their abilities.

A benevolent fund to assist the Carlile family with medical bills and burial costs, in the name of Jenna Carlile, has been established at Opus Bank. Donations can be deposited at any branch, or can be mailed to: Opus Bank, Jenna Carlile Fund, 815 State Ave., Marysville, WA 98270.

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