(ANTIMEDIA) In January of 2016, a 12-year-old girl was killed after her father pointed a gun at a Pennsylvania constable and the constable fired his own weapon. The officer’s bullet hit the young girl, and she later died from the wounds. Last week, a jury found the father guilty of his daughter’s murder.
On January 11, 2016, constable Clark Steele arrived at the apartment Donald Meyer, 60, who was subject to eviction for not paying rent. When he opened the door, he pointed a semi-automatic weapon at Steele, and Steele responded by pulling his own weapon and firing.
According to PennLive, the jury viewed video of the incident taken by the building’s property manager. The outlet summarized the footage:
“Donald Meyer opens the door during the eviction and points the rifle at constable Clark Steele. Steele draws his gun and fires a single shot, then retreats when the apartment door closes. The bullet hit Meyer in the arm, passed through and hit Ciara Meyer in the chest, killing her.”
According to witnesses, the young girl was pleading with her father to stop escalating the situation. His wife, Sherry Meyer, and others described him as an aggressive man who often made threats, though Steele testified that in two prior interactions with Donald Meyer, there had been no issue.
Meyer was charged with third degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, two counts of aggravated assault, simple assault, terroristic threats, parental endangering the welfare of a child, and two counts of reckless endangerment.
While it’s undeniable that Meyer endangered his child, and it is ultimately not surprising that he was convicted of murder, what is surprising is that Steele, the officer who fired the bullet that killed Ciara Meyer, received no charges whatsoever. Rather, the girl’s mother, as well as the rest of the community, feel justice has been served and do not blame Steele for killing the girl., Steele has expressed anguish over the incident.
Jerry Philpott, Meyer’s lawyer, argued the father feared his home was “being invaded,” though authorities said he knew he was going to be evicted at the same time the constable showed up. He also said Meyer had feared burglars and was cleaning his gun when the constable arrived. “The question you’re going to have to answer is, did constable Steele overreact to a fraught situation?” the defense attorney told the jury. That was not enough to sway the jury, which did not return a verdict on the involuntary manslaughter charge because they found him guilty of the more serious crime of third degree murder.
Steele, in contrast, was deemed to have just been doing his job. “His lawful job, because he had a valid court order, was to remove them from the property if they had not already moved,” said Trooper Rob Hicks, a spokesman for the state police, shortly after the incident in 2016. “The constable fired one round when he faced an immediate threat from which he could not retreat safely – he had no other force options,” said Bill Stoeffler, a Dauphin County constable and spokesman for the capital area constables’ association.