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Lawyers: Former NBA star Shawn Kemp fired in self-defense

FILE - Former NBA basketball player Shawn Kemp speaks during the Seattle Kraken's NHL hockey expansion draft event in Seattle, July 21, 2021.
Ted S. Warren
FILE - Former NBA basketball player Shawn Kemp speaks during the Seattle Kraken's NHL hockey expansion draft event in Seattle, July 21, 2021.

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Former NBA star Shawn Kemp acted in self-defense when he exchanged gunfire in a Washington parking lot while trying to retrieve a stolen cell phone and other items, his attorneys said Thursday.

Kemp, 53, was arrested by Tacoma police Wednesday for investigation of a drive-by shooting but was released from jail Thursday afternoon without charges having been filed. The Pierce County Prosecutor's Office said it would not file charges pending further investigation.

“We’re grateful they didn’t rush to judgment,” said Seattle criminal defense lawyer Tim Leary, who is representing Kemp.

In a written statement, another Kemp attorney, W. Scott Boatman, said Kemp's vehicle was broken into Tuesday night and several items were taken — including an iPhone. Kemp tracked the phone's location to an occupied car at the Tacoma Mall, and when Kemp confronted the individuals inside, they shot at him, and he returned fire, Boatright said.

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

Tacoma police said they recovered a gun at the scene.

Kemp, who has two licensed cannabis stores in Seattle, was a six-time NBA all-star and played for the Seattle SuperSonics from 1989 to 1997. He also played for Cleveland, Portland and Orlando.

Kemp debuted in the NBA during the 1989-90 season as a 20-year-old who had never played college basketball. He became known for his high-flying, athletic dunks.

Updated: March 9, 2023 at 3:59 PM PST
MAJOR UPDATE: Updates throughout with Kemp's attorneys saying he acted in self-defense, other details on theft and encounter at mall.
Updated: March 9, 2023 at 2:56 PM PST
Updated with Kemp's release. Updates headline, summary. Raises Tacoma police report of shooting. Adds hyperlinks.
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