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Former NBA star Shawn Kemp released with no charges after shooting

Shawn Kemp posed outside one of his Seattle cannabis shops in 2020. (Lindsey Wasson for The Washington Post)
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Former NBA player Shawn Kemp was released Thursday from a county jail in Washington state with no charges filed after he was arrested the day before in connection with a shooting.

Local reports linked the arrest of Kemp, 53, to a burst of gunfire Wednesday afternoon near a Tacoma shopping mall. He was booked into jail with a designation of suspicion of drive-by shooting, according to Pierce County records.

A county official told the Associated Press that Kemp was being released from jail, with no immediate filing of charges, pending further investigation.

Tacoma police had said in a statement Wednesday that a then-unidentified 53-year-old male was booked after “an altercation between the occupants of 2 cars led to shots being fired at a parking lot.” The incident took place shortly before 2 p.m., and there were no injuries reported, police said, with one vehicle fleeing the scene.

An attorney for Kemp, W. Scott Boatman, said in a statement Thursday (via Tacoma station KCPQ) that the former Seattle SuperSonics star fired a weapon in self-defense after being shot at first.

“Late Tuesday evening Shawn Kemp’s vehicle was broken into and numerous items were stolen, including an iPhone,” said Boatman. “On Thursday, Mr. Kemp tracked his iPhone to an occupied vehicle in a shopping mall parking lot in Tacoma. When Mr. Kemp approached the vehicle in an attempt to retrieve his stolen property, individuals inside the vehicle shot at Mr. Kemp, who then returned fire in self-defense.

“There was not a drive by shooting as previously reported and Mr. Kemp’s actions were reasonable and legally justified. Mr. Kemp met with law enforcement at the scene in an attempt to assist in the matter.”

Kemp played the majority of his NBA career for the SuperSonics, a franchise that moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and was renamed the Thunder. He operates a pair of cannabis shops in Seattle.

Drafted 17th overall by Seattle in 1989, the 6-foot-10 Kemp was known for his athleticism and ferocious in-game dunks. A six-time all-star, he helped the Sonics reach the 1996 NBA Finals, in which they lost in six games to Michael Jordan’s 72-win Chicago Bulls. After spending eight seasons with Seattle, Kemp had a three-year run with the Cleveland Cavaliers before moving to the Portland Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic to finish his 14-year career. He never averaged fewer than 15.0 points and 8.4 rebounds during the 1990s, and he had at least a 17.2 player efficiency rating in each of those 10 seasons.

Drive-by shooting is listed as a class B felony in Washington law. If charged and convicted, Kemp could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, with a fine of up to $20,000.