NBA legend Shawn Kemp has been charged with first-degree assault in relation to a March shooting incident, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday (April 14).
"Former Sonics star Shawn Kemp has been charged with assault in first degree stemming from March incident when Kemp allegedly fired a handgun in parking lot of a Tacoma shopping mall. His lawyer Scott Boatman tells ESPN that Kemp will enter plea of not guilty in upcoming arraignment," Wojnarowski tweeted.
Prosecutors had previously decided not to file charges against Kemp in relation to the shooting that led to his arrest on March 8, with Kemp and his attorney, Scott Boatman, claiming the incident was an act of self-defense at the time, which Boatman reiterated on Friday.
"Today, Shawn Kemp learned that the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office elected to file charges against him," Boatman said in an official statement shared by Wojnarowski. "He will be entering a plea of not guilty at his upcoming arraignment. He has been fully cooperative with the police and the prosecutor's office throughout this process. 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. He has retained the law offices of Aaron Kiviat and Tim Leary to defend in these charges."
On March 9, police audio from Kemp's arrest revealed that officers responded to a report of "two subjects firing shots at each other," TMZ Sports reported. Witnesses told police that Kemp, 53, fired 5-10 shots at another vehicle, according to the police dispatch audio.
Sources close to Kemp claimed he acted in self-defense, having had his property stolen from his vehicle on March 7, before tracking his iPhone to Tacoma and getting shot at before firing back on March 8, FOX 13 Seattle reports.
No injuries were reported in relation to the incident. Video footage appears to show Kemp firing a gun before his arrest.
The footage, which was also obtained and shared by TMZ Sports, shows a man resembling Kemp approaching a vehicle in a parking lot and yelling something before firing a single shot. The man is seen wearing a red vest, which resembled one worn by Kemp in a photo shared earlier that day.
Witnesses told TMZ Sports that they heard multiple gunshots before recording the incident on their phones and said Kemp drove around the parking lot and threw his gun in a bush before being detained by police. The footage showed officers arresting the NBA legend, as well as searching a bush for the handgun.
The Tacoma Police Department initially said a 53-year-old man was booked in a drive-by shooting following "an altercation between two occupants" of two vehicles in a post shared on Twitter at the time of Kemp's arrest. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski quote-tweeted the report and confirmed that Kemp was listed on the Pierce County (Washington) Corrections inmate listings.
The website listed Shawn Travis Kemp, 53, as having been booked into jail at 5:58 p.m. local time on March 8.
Kemp is best known for his stint with the Seattle Supersonics during the first eight seasons of his NBA career, which included a Western Conference championship in 1996 and also played for the Cleveland Cavaliers (1997-2000), Portland Trail Blazers (2000-02) and Orlando Magic (2002-02). The former McDonald's High School All-American was selected by Sonics out of high school at No. 17 overall in the 1989 NBA Draft and was a six-time NBA All-Star (1993-98) and a three-time All-NBA second team selection (1994-96), as well as being widely regarded as one of the greatest dunkers in league history.
Kemp averaged 16.2 points and 9.6 rebounds during his eights seasons in Seattle, as well as 14.6 points and 8.4 rebounds during his 14-year NBA career. The 53-year-old had previously been arrested for drug possession in April 2005 after he and another man were found by King County Sheriff's Office deputies with a small amount of cocaine, approximately 60 grams of marijuana and a semiautomatic pistol.
Kemp pleaded guilty to the charge and was later arrested again for misdemeanor marijuana possession in Houston, Texas, in June 2006.
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