Ex-NBA star Shawn Kemp charged with assault in Tacoma Mall parking lot shooting

Pierce County prosecutors charged former Seattle SuperSonic Shawn Kemp with first-degree assault after exchanging gunfire last month in the Tacoma Mall parking lot.

At the time, the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney's Office said it was not filing charges for the March 8 incident.

According to charging documents, Kemp told Tacoma police he was shot at first, but detectives say that does not line up with video from witnesses. That video allegedly shows Kemp getting out of his car, grabbing a bag from his trunk and firing the gun.

Detectives said Kemp was standing where a round of ammunition was found on the ground, and during a search of his car a gun was located.

Previously, Kemp's attorney told FOX 13 he fired a gun in self-defense after he tracked his stolen cell phone to the Tacoma Mall. He called Kemp's actions reasonable.

"Individuals inside the vehicle shot at Mr. Kemp, who then returned fire in self-defense," Kemp's attorney Scott Boatman told FOX 13 last month. "There was not a drive-by shooting as previously reported, and Mr. Kemp’s actions were reasonable and legally justified."

According to court documents, Kemp allowed police to search his phone. Police said investigators found a text Kemp said before the incident saying he was going to shoot the person.

Kemp was released from the Pierce County Jail shortly after noon on March 9.

More than a month later, Kemp was charged with first-degree assault. His arraignment is scheduled for May 4.

In a new statement on April 14, Boatman said: 

"Today Shawn Kemp learned that the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office elected to file charges against him.  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." 

Kemp, who spent a majority of his career with the Seattle SuperSonics after being drafted in 1989, played in the NBA for 14 years. Following retirement, Kemp kept his roots in Seattle – while turning into a businessperson.

Kemp recently opened up a second Shawn Kemp’s Cannabis location in SODO, following a downtown opening the year prior. Kemp is part owner of the business.