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Everett hit with claim in shooting by officer

Lawyers for man’s daughter say city won’t release report

Meservey (The Spokesman-Review)
Meservey (The Spokesman-Review)
Tim Klass Associated Press

SEATTLE – The daughter of a man who was shot to death by Everett police filed a damage claim Tuesday for $5 million to $15 million, complaining that not even the name of the officer who shot him has been released after more than three months.

Bystanders have given spotty accounts of the circumstances surrounding the death of Niles Leo Meservey, an artist who reportedly began reciting the Lord’s Prayer after he was shot seven times in the back June 10, and lack of any official report is a principal concern, said Paul N. Luvera and David D. Beninger, lawyers for Tanda Louden of Holdingford, Minn., Meservey’s daughter.

The claim, which could be followed by a lawsuit unless the matter is resolved within 60 days, is aimed at assuring police accountability and whatever changes are needed in Everett police policy and training “so this kind of tragedy doesn’t happen again,” Luvera said.

Kate Reardon, a spokeswoman for the city, confirmed in a news release that the claim had been received.

“This is a serious matter, and the city is reviewing Ms. Louden’s claim,” Reardon wrote.

Rebecca Hover, a spokeswoman for the Snohomish County sheriff’s office, said the multiagency team that investigated the shooting gave its report to Deputy Prosecutor Mark Roe on Aug. 31 and would not comment further. Roe and Sgt. Robert Goetz, a police spokesman, did not return calls to the Associated Press.

Fighting to maintain her composure at a news conference, Louden described her father as “a very good man” who had been working on an illustrated children’s book and “cared a lot for the people around him.”

Police have never spoken with her about the shooting, she said.

“We have waited long enough now, and we would like some answers,” Louden said. “This would be the first step in finding out the truth about what has happened to my father and trying to figure out why this has happened.”

Meservey, 51, of Stanwood, was shot while at the wheel of his idling white Chevrolet Corvette, boxed in by three police cruisers in the parking lot of the Chuckwagon Inn.

According to initial police accounts, officers responding to reports of a drunken driver found Meservey about to leave in a Chevrolet Corvette and jolted him through the driver’s side window with a Taser. The car then jumped ahead and away from the officers a few feet, over a parking curb and into a fence, and the shooting ensued.

According to reports at the time, a woman was knocked down when the car hit the fence, but she later told investigators she was startled and tripped, Luvera said without identifying her. She said Meservey was reciting the Lord’s Prayer when he was pulled from the car and died shortly afterward as he lay on the pavement, the lawyer added.

An autopsy determined that Meservey had a blood alcohol level of .26 percent, more than three times the .08 legal threshold for intoxication. No other drugs or medications were found.

Under state law, the officer’s state of mind at the time is a key factor in whether the shooting was legally justified, Luvera noted.

“There may be a valid explanation, but for the life of me I have not been able to ascertain it – but, then again, I’ve been denied, we’ve all been denied, the information that would help us all figure it out,” Luvera said. “We’re filing this claim in order to start the process that allows us to ask questions, under oath, to get the facts.”

He said the calls that resulted in police being dispatched were made by two women who had been drinking in the bar at the same time as Meservey. One of the women knew the police officer who later questioned her, Luvera said. He did not identify the woman or otherwise elaborate.

Goetz told the Herald of Everett that the officer who fired the shots, an 11-year veteran, was placed on paid leave immediately after the shooting, returned to the job but only for desk work, then was put back on administrative leave earlier this month.

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