Attorney: Officer had no choice but to shoot

Attorney: Officer had no choice but to shoot »Play Video
SEATTLE -- The police officer charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of an allegedly drunk driver had no choice but to shoot, according to his attorney.

Everett police officer Troy Meade, 41, was charged in Snohomish County Superior Court on Monday with unjustified use of deadly force and recklessness in the death of Niles Leo Meservey, 51, of Stanwood.

Meservey was shot seven times in the back June 10 as he sat at the wheel of his idling white Chevrolet Corvette, boxed in by three police cruisers in the parking lot of Chuckwagon Inn after officers responded to reports of a drunken driver.

"He's very belligerent and extremely intoxicated," one caller is heard telling the dispatcher on the released 911 tape. "And it looks like the male is getting verbal with some of the employees inside, trying to leave."

Meservey's blood alcohol level was 0.26 - more than three times the legal limit - when Meade shot him in the back multiple times. But that was not a show of excessive force, according to Meade's attorney David Allen.

According to a multi-agency investigation, another officer overheard Meade say to Meservey, "I don't know why the (expletive) I'm trying to save your dumb-(expletive)."

Meade is also quoted as having said, "Time to end this. Enough is enough."

But Allen claims the statements are mere hearsay.

"Nobody else heard that," he said. " This is from the same officer that didn't help officer Meade when he needed help."

According to an affidavit filed in court, another officer at the scene, Steven Klocker, "told investigators that he perceived no immediate or imminent threat to the defendant (Meade), any civilians or himself when the defendant opened fire."

Witnesses say the car lurched forward over a parking curb and away from Meade, possibly from an involuntary reflex after Meservey was jolted with the Taser, and lodged against a fence and a parking curb before the officer began shooting.

But Allen claims Officer Meade used a Taser on Meservey who then started the car and tried to take off.

"He was placed in a situation where he was in back of the car. He would have been crushed if the car moved, after he'd ask the person many many times to get out of the car," said Allen.

Witness Trisha Tribble tells a different story, however.

"No way his car could have been used as a deadly weapon," she said.

Tribble admits Meservey appeared to be drunk and uncooperative with police.

"Yes, he was being difficult, but that's no right for death," she said.

Meade is an 11-year veteran of the Everett Police Department. If convicted, he could face up to 8½ years in prison.

Meservey's daughter has filed a claim for $5 to $15 million with the city of Everett over her father's shooting death. The city is reviewing the claim.