EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — A Snohomish County jury cleared an Everett police officer Monday of criminal charges in the shooting death of a drunken-driving suspect in a restaurant parking lot. Officer Troy Meade was acquitted of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, The Herald newspaper of Everett reported. Jurors had been deliberating since Friday.
Meade, whose pictured above hugging his wife after the verdict, shot and killed Niles Meservey in his car outside the Chuckwagon Inn last June. He was charged in Snohomish County Superior Court after witnesses reported that the car, which had hit a chain-link fence, was blocked in and didn't appear to be endangering anyone when Meade fired into the vehicle.
Seven shots hit Meservey (right), who was described as being drunk and uncooperative at the time.
Meade, 41 and an 11-year Everett police veteran, testified that he didn't want to kill anyone, but he said he believed Meservey's Chevrolet Corvette was about to back up and hit him or someone else.
The officer said Monday he felt for Meservey's family.
"I want to put it behind me and go back to work," he said.
Several off-duty police officers attended the trial, and the courtroom reacted with brief applause as well as tears when the verdict was read. Meservey's family is also pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.
"I am sorry the jury was unable to convict Officer Meade of a crime, but I understand how difficult it is to obtain a conviction where there is a presumption of innocence and a burden of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt," his daughter, Tanda Louden, said in a written statement. "Nevertheless, I am confident that a jury in a civil case will find Officer Meade responsible and hold him fully accountable."
Meade's testimony during the trial often contradicted that of Everett police officer Steven Klocker, who testified that he didn't believe that anyone was in danger that night.
Klocker testified that just before gunfire erupted Meade turned to him and said something to the effect of, "Enough is enough; time to end this." Meade denied saying anything before he shot into the Corvette.
Everett police officer Richard Somerville was present when the verdict was read. He said he was relieved for Meade, who had to make a split-second decision as officers frequently must.
Somerville also said he felt for Klocker.
"I believe he was very honest and truthful of what he saw" from his vantage, Somerville said.