WA Police Officer and IGOTD Winner Derek Carlile Reinstated


Derek Carlile occupies a prominent place in the IGOTD Hall Of Eternal Infamy. We’ve been following his case for nearly two years, ever since the off-duty police officer left a loaded handgun in his van’s cup holder, as well as two unattended children. His three year-old son grabbed the gun and killed his own seven-year-old sister with it. For a time it looked as if justice would be done in the wake of this easily preventable and entirely inexcusable tragedy. Carlile was fired from his job with the Marysville Police Department, and he was put on trial for 2nd Degree Manslaughter. But then everything went wrong . . .

The Snohomish county prosecutor couldn’t prove the manslaughter charge, and the jury deadlocked. Instead of re-trying the case or adding a lesser-included charge of Reckless Endangerment to the indictment, the prosecutor did Carlile a ‘solid’ and dismissed the case completely.

And now a final outrage has been committed. Derek Carlile has been reinstated as a police officer by an arbitrator. That’s right, little people: the man who couldn’t even be trusted to keep his own children safe from his own gun is now trusted to keep the people of Marysville, Washington safe from the felons he was only a few jurors away from joining in prison.

From the Everett, Washingon Herald:

In January, an arbitrator determined that termination was an unfair level of discipline because the death happened while Carlile was off-duty, and because he had no significant previous discipline issues.

Carlile is one of at least three police officers in Snohomish County in recent years whose firings have been reversed by an arbitrator. In some cases, officers who are reinstated sign settlements with their previous employers instead of returning to the job.

In the labor proceedings, Carlile reportedly testified that he wants to return to the police department, “with all my heart.” Before his firing, the city offered Carlile a job as a code enforcement officer, a position that doesn’t involve police powers or carrying a firearm. He declined.

Carlile was hired at the police department in April 2009. The arbitrator recommended that Carlile be given a suspension instead of being fired.

Carlile was not granted back pay in the case.

Well thank God for that.

One Rule For Them, Another Rule For Us

Let’s look at the amazingly blatant double-standard that Carlile has benefited from: ordinary citizens like you and I would have almost certainly been put through another criminal trial if the first jury had deadlocked as Carlile’s did.

A diligent prosecutor would also have filed a lesser-included or alternative charge of Reckless Endangerment. Many firearm accidental discharges are prosecuted as Reckless Endangerment in Washington state, and many teenagers are routinely charged with and convicted of it for merely bringing a gun to school even when no discharges or injuries result. A conviction on Carlile’s facts would have been almost a foregone conclusion.

The prosecutor may have avoided lesser-included charges at the first trial, because he wanted the jury to convict Carlile of felony Manslaughter instead. This would have been prudent trial strategy for a prosecutor, because jurors are often willing to ‘split the baby’ (as Solomon did) and convict a defendant of lesser charges when they have the chance, rather than more serious ones.

But what’s a good strategy in a first trial can become bad strategy on retrial. When a jury has already deadlocked on the more serious charges, the prosecutor knows he’s got some weaknesses in his case. Lesser-included charges are a good idea the second time around because it’s the prosecutor’s job to get a conviction for something, even if it’s not the most serious charge.

Reckless Endangerment is a misdemeanor under Washington law, and Carlile would only have faced up to 364 days in the county jail. In reality he probably would have gotten only a few months of jail, but he also would have gotten two years’ probation. Since this tragedy involved firearms, he would probably have been forbidden to use or possess them while on probation. This probation would have cost him his gun rights for a few years, and cost him his job. No matter what the arbitrator says, you can’t be a patrol cop while you’re on probation and can’t touch guns.

And Carlile got very lucky, again, when the police arbitrator gave him his job back. The Marysville Police Department tried to do the right thing by getting him off the force, but their hands were tied. Police union contracts are so protective of LEOs that it’s nearly impossible to fire an officer for any reason that doesn’t involve a conviction for serious crimes. And sometimes even then.

So the people of Marysville, Washington are trusting their safety to a police officer who couldn’t even remember the most basic rules of gun safety. It probably won’t make them feel too much better that they won’t also have to pay him for almost two years of doing nothing.

It does’t make us feel too much better either. Let’s hope Carlile stops leaving loaded guns lying around unsecured. The Once And Future Cop still has a young son, and one dead child is one too many.


  1. avatar PeterK says:

    “No matter what the arbitrator says, you can’t be a patrol cop while you’re on probation and can’t touch guns.”

    No, I remember hearing about a guy who is allowed to carry on duty but not off because he was suicidal or some such.

    Trust me, that rabbit hole always gets deeper. :/

    Edit: This dude: http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2013/12/chris-dumm/pa-state-trooper-prohibited-possessing-firearms-hes-enforcing-law/

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      I remember reading that. Sure seems like it more recently than December 30, but there it is.

      1. avatar ropingdown says:

        When a then-young King Juan Carlos of Spain was living exiled in Portugal, General Franco gave him a revolver for his birthday. A loaded revolver. The king shot and killed his brother. He apparently got over it. He likes to hunt elephants, for example. No problem with guns.

        1. avatar William Burke says:

          Ofc. Carlile has the blood of kings in him, it would seem. 😀

    2. avatar Chris Dumm says:

      I wrote that article too, but that Pennsylvania crap doesn’t float around here. Trust me.

  2. avatar Scott says:

    As messed up as this is, my true concern lies with that boy, and how he will deal with the reality of what his father enabled him to do.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Blank, unusable comment editor box, Matt. Check ‘er out, please.

      1. avatar Scott says:

        Whad’ya call me? 😉

      2. avatar Mina says:

        I noticed that a couple of days ago: update your browser.

        1. avatar William Burke says:

          It is the latest version of Firefox.

    2. avatar Jus Bill says:

      Yup – that’s the tragedy. Much counselling in his future; I hope he can come to terms with himself. Poor kid.

  3. avatar percynjpn says:

    Oh, what a huge surprise -I’m shocked!

  4. avatar JeffR says:

    Public sector unions. They will be the downfall of this country … or, in the least, Chicago.

    1. avatar Closet Gun Nut says:

      That sure seems to be the case in Detroit, and New York is not far behind. A few cities in CA come to mind too.

      1. avatar Highvoltage says:

        Sure….the police union in Detroit was the cause for bankruptcy. Tell that to the good officers(and there are good officers) that are losing their pensions, and have already lost their health care. Tell that to the widows and children of fallen officers like Officer Philpot, or Bandy who’s survivor benefits have been canceled. Or tell it to the duty disabled retired officers like my father, who went through multiple surgeries to repair a broken spine, who now are being denied social security-even though they paid into it prior to, and after leaving the department.
        (I’m sure your one of the naive people that believe cops get ridiculous salaries, do an easy job, and are showered with lavish pensions…do you have any idea what a Detroit cop is paid? A full pension is a little over $20k per year…and officers didn’t pay into Social Security, as they’d retire prior to being eligible, so you have officers that worked a full 25-30 year career, with no health coverage, and no social security, and more than likely no pension. That’s not even the case where people worked full time for years before and after a disability retirement, but failed to hit the set threshold for social security by as little as $50 per year to qualify for benefits at 62..of coarse this was never mentioned on the yearly SS statements.)

        My dad enlisted in the Army during Vietnam, got out, worked hard, became a cop, got hurt, started a small business, worked hard, and is now left in the lurch…and somehow it is the unions fault. Sure, it had nothing to do with the complete curruption and ineptitude of the city counsel and mayors office-all the way back prior to Coleman Young and through the Kilpatrick administrations..

        1. avatar Lawman45 says:

          Too bad about the pension. If you are gonna be part of a corrupt system, you go down with the ship.

          Every cop sees the dirty ones day in and day out. They are ALL part of the cover-up (ask Frank Serpico). Cops do not have any honor code like West Point’s — “We do not lie, cheat, steal, NOR TOLERATE AMONG US THOSE WHO DO.” All 4 of those “no-no’s” are part of the police ethic.

  5. avatar William Burke says:

    Officer Carlile (and I use the term loosely) is obviously a titan amongst true mortals. We should all fall at the floral-smelling feet of this giant amidst us.

    With this kind of luck, he should be chief of police within five years.

  6. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    I’m very surprised at the prosecutors choices.
    Isn’t that lacking in due diligence? Or a total lack of acting in the best interest of ones client? In this case the county/state?
    Smells bad from my perspective.

    1. avatar ropingdown says:

      No, really?

    2. avatar Lawman45 says:

      It’s a common prosecutor trick. If you want a win and get jail time, you charge all counts. You will win on something.

      If want the D to get a walk, you charge only the top count (which you do not have sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt) but no lessers. The jury has a single choice and they acquit. You can never go back and charge the by-passed lessers! The walk is permanent. Prosecutors do this often when cops are the D. The public is easily fooled. That happened here and it worked.

  7. avatar Jim at the NSA says:

    On the other hand, he has to live with it every day for the rest of his life. He will see his son, and remember what he caused to happen. And it’ll haunt him for all his days. I know I wouldn’t want to have to face myself in the mirror everyday with that weighing my conscience. In the end, he’ll be harder on himself than we ever could be.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      I’m not sure I buy this “he has to live with it every day” stuff. People learn to live with all sorts of terrible stuff they do. I hope you’re right, though.

    2. avatar John L. says:

      Not if he doesn’t believe it was his fault.

    3. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      And do you believe the lingering psychological damage from this tragedy will make him more or less qualified to carry a firearm and protect the people of his community?

      I don’t want LE officers carrying that kind of emotional baggage. He needs to find a new line of work.

    4. avatar Jus Bill says:

      He’s going to snap, sooner or later. Either outwardly or inwardly. Just a tragic downward trajectory. I don’t see how this could end well for anyone.

  8. avatar fiun dagner says:

    “its for the children!”. except when it isn’t

  9. avatar Mk10108 says:

    A REAL PIECE OF WORK. No honor, no integrity, serve themselves and protect their pensions.

  10. avatar Maineuh says:

    It’s really starting to look like cops are completely untouchable. Beat a homeless guy on camera? No problem. Fire willy nilly at a van full of paper carriers? Can’t touch this. Leave a freakin’ loaded gun so that your toddler can have at it? Go free, go back to work and here’s a check for the last two years. Unfrigginbelievable. I do sympathize with the guy for what he went through, but that double standard is just sickening.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      As I recall, he was denied his back pay. ¡Pobrecito!

      1. avatar Maineuh says:

        ¡Pobrecito! I actually know what that means, by gum. Perfect spot for it, too.
        Yep. I just read in a separate story that the back pay was denied. That’s something, I guess.

        1. avatar William Burke says:

          For the non-Spanish savvy: Poor little thing!

  11. avatar Hannibal says:

    Reckless endangerment was the right charge, and I bet the jury would have come back with a guilty verdict had it been charged alone. I am so tired of this prosecutorial overcharging… it’s costing convictions.

    If a police officer can be fired for facebook posts- and they can- they should be fired for being so negligent as to allow a child to kill himself with that officer’s gun, even if found not guilty of a crime.

    The whole situation is a clusterf%^k from beginning to end.

  12. avatar Ralph says:

    Let the poor cop go back to beating up homeless guys and shaking down hookers. He’s a prince among plebeians.

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      My guess is he’ll eat his gun some time in the future. Tragic all around.

  13. avatar Jared says:

    Federal law does not prohibit this cop from carrying a government gun on or off duty per 18 USC 925(a).

    Unless something in WA law further restricts his ability, he can possess and carry government guns on or off duty per federal law.

    Yes, government workers are held to lower standards that the average serf (citizen).

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      What federal law would apply to a non-cop who is unconvicted of a crime?

  14. avatar Accur81 says:

    Sad. I thought reckless endangerment – at a minimum – would have been a totally appropriate charge.

  15. avatar NJDevil says:

    The worst part is that this guy has the audacity to ask for his job back after what happened! I can’t even imagine how his wife feels about this.

  16. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    What is it with places named Marysville…?

  17. avatar Randy Drescher says:

    Whats the word from the grabbers? (Thats ok, it was only one kid?) (look what your guns did?) I can’t hear you, motha’s.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Don’t worry, they’ll be happy to disarm police and the military once they’re doing using them to try and disarm everyone else.

  18. avatar Piet Padkos says:

    Ignoring the technicalities, what made him think leaving a loaded ANYTHING in a car with two siblings both under the age of 8?

    When I was 3-5 I constantly shot my older brother and sister with my suction dart and BB guns. I didn’t care that it hurt them, they were being mean to me. The concept of a stray BB hitting them in the eye and blinding them just wasn’t real to me.

    If someone left a loaded gun near me at that age I would have killed both my siblings, the cat that kept pissing in our garden killing our lillies, the neighbour’s dog who kept screwing my dog, the pigeon that kept crapping all over the garden furniture (I was convinced it was always the same pigeon) and that dumbass kid down the street who was convinced that he could install Quake on a toy laptop.

    A pissed off 3 year old can use anything as a weapon. WTF did he think would happen with a real gun.

    I feel bad for that boy though, that isn’t something he’ll get over easily.

  19. avatar Anonymous says:

    Yup… The current American way:

    One Rule For Them, Another Rule For Us

    Now for the definition of “Justice:”

    Justice: (n):
    a : the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments
    b : judge
    c : the administration of law; especially : the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity
    a : the quality of being just, impartial, or fair
    b (1) : the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action (2) : conformity to this principle or ideal : righteousness
    c : the quality of conforming to law
    : conformity to truth, fact, or reason : correctness
    See justice defined for English-language learners »
    See justice defined for kids »

    Now we compare the definition of “Justice” with the phrase “One Rule For Them, Another Rule For Us” and cross reference with the events of this police officer and what conclusion do you reach?

    1. avatar rick smith says:

      No use in posting I cant say it better than that, other than we have the biggest morons running our country in the world. I leave my gun out I have to stand accountable, he leaves his gun out and don’t. You definitely got it right.

  20. avatar Shire-man says:

    Having to live with his loss is no condolence. People this stupid and selfish don’t have feelings. To leave a gun sitting on the center console in a car of unattended children then ask for his job back knowing full well he’s an embarrassment to his department and coworkers means this guy is either dumb as a brick and completely incapable of empathy or he’s a sociopath.

    Either way a perfect cop.

  21. avatar 'Liljoe says:

    I think the focus of this article drifted… The point shouldn’t be that he got away with it and can now bear arms again, but that (as part of the article pointed out) that a regular citizen would have been hounded. He should be prosecuted for reckless endangerment or neglect (or even child abuse)… But this has nothing to do with guns, and everything to do with parenting.

  22. avatar Mk10108 says:

    I suppose now, he’ll be called upon the lecture circuit to “tell his story”. His “journey” to the correct way of securing a weapon, new laws, for the childern, for mandatory gun safes. Of course expense will be paid and….well you have to pay for his time.

  23. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    Where’s the mother?! You’d think causing the death of your kid would be grounds for divorce and loss of custody.

    As for the officer, were he to get his legal and financial affairs in order to care for and support his remaining child’s future, I would agree to him having access to a firearm again. Once.

    1. avatar FoRealz? says:

      The mother was right there with him and left the kids in the van too while she and hubby went to talk to a friend.

      Watch the vidja:


      1. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

        Wow. So she’s involved, too? I hadn’t seen the video before just now. Playing videos on this phone can be hit or miss, but this one played fine. That cubby hole was right out in the open. No way the mom didn’t know that handgun was there. Re-try him, charge her, place the kid with a relative.

      2. avatar William Burke says:

        Not sure why the mother wasn’t charged as well, but I guess it was his gun. Still, doesn’t she bear some responsibility for leaving four unattended children in a car with a gun?

  24. avatar MiniMe says:

    “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

  25. avatar FoRealz? says:

    Being stupid has a price. Sometimes the bill comes due and other people pay it.

    I too don’t buy the “He’ll have to live with this…” line of thought. Anyone so detached from reality that he thinks that after an incident like this, in which his actions were directly responsible for the death of a child, that he is still qualified to serve and protect is a loon and far beyond the rest of us ‘normals’ understanding of conscience and shame.

    Although he wasn’t awarded back pay, it sounds like he tried to get it. If so, that’s the cherry on top. Wonder if he cited “family hardship.”

    I bet if they stick his ass behind a desk he’ll sue for some reason or another to be let back out on the streets. “Discrimineration!, Dont’cha know?!, I didn’t do nuttin’ the jury said!”

    Derpa – Derpa – Derpa – DERP!

    1. avatar GoldiGlocks says:

      They should make him the school resource officer at his daughters former school.

    2. avatar William Burke says:

      I know you realize this is far from him “serving and protecting”; this is about getting to be a Big Man with a Badge again, and about his stinking paycheck. Blood money, as far as I’m concerned.

  26. So, now you support a conviction at any cost? Is splitting the baby justice? According to the Bible, it is not. I thought people of the gun were against convicting someone with bogus charges that were filed just to get a conviction on anything? I think your real arguement is with the arbiter who is clearly not that bright.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      What “bogus charges” are you referring to, knee-jerk?

  27. avatar skinnedknuckles says:

    Well, I haven’t heard any outrage from our favorites Mothers Demand “something” group. Guess because it wasn’t one of us.

  28. avatar Colt Magnum says:

    Less than 2 weeks after this tragedy, a little further south in Washington, another child was killed when mom’s boyfriend left his handgun in the car while he darted into the store. Same state, different county, different prosecutor. He was convicted. I don’t remember the charge. Still, it proves there are 2 standards. One for police and one for the rest of us.

  29. avatar Mediocrates says:

    That’s what the people of Marysville deserve. I could care less if this guy accidentally shoots all of them. Karma dontcha know.

  30. avatar William Burke says:

    Exactly what I keep saying. Count on it.

    The first sign will be when cops have to lock up their guns in a locker or armory after a shift.

  31. avatar William Burke says:

    Yeah. There is that, isn’t there?

  32. avatar Mina says:

    This is a terrible tragedy. I hate hearing about dead kids.

    in other news, the whole world is leaning to the left these days. those guys get a pass and if you’re a righty you will be made to suffer.

    seems to be the way of things more and more. and accelerating.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      It’s not your imagination, Mina. Almost everyone feels it. It’s the approach of a Singularity, which most refer to as SHTF.

      I don’t see anything stopping it, but we have to try, every day.

  33. avatar Dermott says:

    And you wonder why I’m afraid of cops?

  34. avatar recneck says:

    Sad. i think though that the grief of causing your daughters death and causing your son that grief would be punishment enough.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Has it really been two years? The older you get, the more time flies, like the downslope of a roller coaster that only goes down, faster and faster! Or a runaway rail car in a coal mine, out of control, hurtling towards the bottom of the mine.

      Hope everyone is having a safe and relaxed Memorial Day.

    2. avatar William Burke says:

      Robert, once again you separate the city from the State by several paragraphs, It’s maddening! INVERTED PYRAMID FORM, five Ws and one H: Who, What, WHERE, When, Why, and How.

      It NEVER goes out of date or popularity. They should be as much in that order as possible, and all should be in the first paragraph when possible, or with the first two, at minimum.

      I’m not going to stop complaining about this. I hate having to hunt through the entire article to find all these vital factors.

      Buck up, or bug out.

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  36. avatar Clint Kennedy says:

    Hasn’t this guy suffered enough? Now we have to demonize him because he has been given (1) a second chance at life and (2) an opportunity to provide for his family. This poor guy will go to his grave regretting this tragedy.

  37. avatar N says:

    The ignorance some people have baffles me. And I am not talking about Officer Carlile. I am talking about all of you who decided you knew enough about this man to even judge him. You should all know better. The media skews everything. This whole story is completely wrong. I know the family first hand. It is pitiful to read all these comments. I mean really if you knew him you wouldn’t be saying put him to jail. I know that everyday he is mourning the loss of his daughter. His wife is standing strong by his side. Their son is doing a amazing. This story is all sorts of bias. You could say my comment is bias. Honestly though it is silly to see all the things you people think. ha May God help you all! Officer Carlile is an amazing man, I don’t blame him for what happened. Sometimes things are meant to happen for reasons. By the way, the kids were all strapped into their seats and the parents where right outside the door of the car! The gun wasn’t in plain sight either. Seriously horrible of all of you to say such things when you don’t know him. Also, since he got convinced all the people he had previously arrested got out scott free… Yeah you’d rather have scum bags on the street then a record free man who didn’t even have the slightest intention of doing anything wrong. Next time people think before you talk.

    1. avatar Brian says:

      Thank you for that I may not know his family but I do know him from from his line of duty and I may not have been best of people but he always treated me with respect

  38. avatar Brian says:

    If any of you knew this officer you would know he is one of the best officers in Marysville and I’m speaking from personal experience I was a trouble maker in that town when I was younger, he is probably only officer I would hang around when he off duty I’m glad he got his job back because he has not let power go to his head he don’t think he better then anyone else and I’m proud to have known him

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