By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published June 20, 2012
Arbitrator: officer’s firing stands
EVERETT - He resorted to deadly force too quickly, and he was stripped of his badge for his poor judgment.
Arbitrator Janet Gaunt upheld the Everett Police Department’s decision to fire police officer Troy Meade for a 2009 line-of-duty shooting that killed a drunken man.
Gaunt expressed no confidence Meade wouldn’t use deadly force again if he was reinstated to the force.
“There is insufficient reason to believe that further training or experience would preclude Officer Meade from using deadly force too precipitously in the future,” Gaunt ruled.
The ruling is binding.
Meade violated the department’s rules on the use of deadly force when he shot Niles Meservey who was in his idling vehicle parked in a parking lot, Gaunt ruled. When Meservey’s car moved, Meade feared Meservey was going to run him over, Meade said in testimony.
Meade used his Taser on Meservey when Meservey reached for the gearshift, but Meade began shooting at Meservey 21 seconds later when the vehicle moved and the engine began revving. Meade fired eight shots, seven hitting Meservey in the back.
Instead of shooting, Meade could have ducked behind a sports utility vehicle directly next to him when he felt threatened, Gaunt ruled. Meservey’s death was avoidable, she wrote.
The Police Department’s code of conduct doesn’t allow officers to shoot at moving vehicles unless lives are threatened and there is no alternative to protect them other than to shoot.
A reasonable officer would have sought cover away from the vehicle instead of shooting, Gaunt wrote.
Meade’s tensions were “undoubtedly heightened” by a 2006 incident when he saw another officer injured by a reversing car, but his actions failed to meet the department’s strict standards against officers shooting at a moving vehicle, Gaunt wrote.
The fatal shooting happened in the parking lot of Chuckwagon Inn on Evergreen Way. Officers were there because bar staff called 911 reporting Meservey planned to drive drunk.
In 2010, a jury acquitted Meade of second-degree murder and manslaughter for the fatal shooting.
The city later settled with Meservey’s family for more than $500,000.
Meade was fired in July 2011 after spending many months on paid administrative leave. Gaunt was asked to make an arbitration ruling after Everett’s police union filed a grievance challenging Meade’s termination.
Representatives from the Everett Police Officer’s Association did not respond to an e-mail from the Tribune for comment.
City spokeswoman Kate Reardon declined to comment on the decision.
“We’re letting the decision speak for itself,” Reardon said.
Meade joined the Everett Police Department in 1998.