Former Sonics legend Shawn Kemp makes first court appearance

TACOMA, Wash. — Former Seattle SuperSonics legend made his first appearance in court Thursday morning, where he pleaded not guilty to a first-degree assault charge.

He is accused of firing a gun in the Tacoma Mall parking lot on Mar. 8.

Kemp said the incident stemmed from a car prowl incident in Seattle in which his phone was stolen. He eventually tracked his phone to the Tacoma Mall parking lot.

According to court documents, Kemp said it was there that a single gunshot was fired at him. He said he then retreated to his car and fired back, but police said video of the incident does not align with his statement.

Kemp said he then threw his gun into a nearby bush, but detectives said he could not explain why.

Detectives also said they discovered a text message in Kemp’s phone that he allegedly sent 13 minutes before he arrived at the parking lot: “I’m about to shoot this MF.”

During Kemp’s arraignment on Thursday, Pierce County Judge Craig Adams noted that Kemp had no criminal history.

“Mr. Kemp, I have looked carefully at your criminal history. To your credit, you don’t have any. You have some speeding tickets, and you’re not a very good driver apparently, but nothing to give me cause for the danger of the community,” said Adams.

Kemp only replied “correct” in response to the judge’s questions, as his attorney, Timothy Leary, took over.

“The alleged victims in this case are not known to Mr. Kemp. And I don’t know that the state has actually had contact with them,” said Leary.

Court documents show that officers have been unable to track down the people that Kemp is accused of firing at.

Kemp was released on personal recognizance and must stay at his Renton home, though he is allowed to travel out of state for business purposes only.

He is not allowed to possess a gun, contact victims or witnesses in the case, or use controlled substances.

His trial is set for Jul. 18, but he has two hearings before then.