Girl, 12, Fatally Shot by Constable Serving Eviction Notice

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PENN TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Ciera Meyer was sick and stayed at home from school. She was shot dead after her father pulled a gun on a constable who came calling, police said.

Police say the girl's father pointed a rifle at the constable before he opened fire. (Credit: WHP)

Police say the girl's father pointed a rifle at the constable before he opened fire.

On Monday, Pennsylvania State Constable Clarke Steele was serving an eviction notice to Donald Meyer, 57, in Penn Township when Meyer slid a .223-caliber rifle into view and pointed it at Steele's chest, Pennsylvania State Police said.

"Constable Steele, who was in uniform, quickly removed his .40 caliber duty weapon from its holster and fired a single round striking the suspect in his upper left arm," police said.

The bullet passed through Meyer's arm and struck his 12-year-old daughter, who was standing behind him, in the chest. Family members identified her as Ciera Meyer.

“[Meyer] put the constable in a situation where he had to make a decision to use deadly force, and he did, and now we have this tragedy,” Trooper Rob Hicks of the Pennsylvania State Police told WPMT.

“[Steele] is heartsick and heartbroken over the outcome,” Bill Stoeffler, of the Commonwealth Constables Association and a colleague and friend of Steele, said Tuesday night. “[It’s] every constable's absolute worst nightmare.”

“This is a situation that happened very suddenly and very violently,” Stoeffler said. “He was put in a position from which he couldn't retreat safely. He had no other option really than to do what he did and respond as he did.”

'I burst into tears'

A neighbor heard the shot. When she found out who died, "I burst into tears," she told WHTM. "I can't understand it; it's horrible."

She dreaded telling her young daughter.

"She's not going to handle it very well. It's horrible. How do you tell a little girl that something like this happened? How do you explain that? I'm an adult, and I don't understand it," said the woman, whom WHTM did not name.

Father wounded

Donald Meyer was flown to a hospital for treatment. He has been charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, terroristic threats and recklessly endangering another person.

There is the question of Constable Steele being armed, because some constables are not.

That is ultimately up to the judges who contract with the constables, Stoeffler said, since they determine whether the constable can carry a firearm and go through additional training to do so.

Employees of the apartment complex had accompanied Steele to Meyer's address and witnessed the shooting, police said.

The rifle Meyer carried was loaded, had a bullet in the chamber, and its magazine was filled with 30 rounds.

Credit: WPMT

Pennsylvania constables are not police officers but elected officials. They may be tasked with certain aspects of law enforcement in the duty of the courts, according to the Pennsylvania court system.

Small percentage of shooting deaths deemed accidental

More than 400,000 people in the United States were killed with firearms between 2001 to 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly 60% of deaths from gun violence recorded by the CDC were suicides.

The next biggest chunk, some 38%, were homicides -- defined as one person killing another.

The CDC characterizes 2% of all shooting deaths as accidental.

28 comments

  • Lloyd Schmucatelli

    Pay your rent and this won’t happen. Move, when you lose an eviction, instead of having the constable throw you out and this won’t happen..
    The constable was doing his job within state law. No crime here. The dad is to blame.

  • M. Kinslow

    Why couldn’t he retreat? He could’ve easily pulled his firearm and retreated. It was only an eviction notice. Evidently the father wasn’t going to shoot or he would’ve. There is NO reason for him to be carrying a firearm to serve an eviction notice. He could’ve easily stepped to the side and been out of harms way or retreated backwards until other official policemen or woman could’ve been notified and come to his aid.
    Now a small child has paid the price. I e said it before and I’ll say it again, there are some law or peace officers that should not be allowed to carry a firearm during their job. I’ve seen it before personally and now the public is aware of these situations. I’ve seen “constables” and “part time police” and young rookies use their tazers and firearms when they were not needed and I’ve seen them pull them out in a hurry and make situations worse. But “Joe public” hardly ever sees and never heard of these situations because the authorities sweep them under the rug and cover them up. I personally had a YOUNG rookie pull a Tazor gun out and point it at me over an argument about a parking spot and I had another rookie jump me from behind while cooperating and drive me to the ground while another rookie pulled his firearm. So I’m just saying. Sad part is a small child has lost her life to bring this to the publics attention. Thoughts and prayers to her family and those that knew her.

    • Lloyd Schmucatelli

      No there isn’t. Common misconception. The easiest way to evict in PA, is actually non-payment of rent.

  • Reuben

    What the hell is wrong with most of you? This is completely on the father, plain and simple. Making up all this other b.s is an insult to this poor girl’s loss of life.

  • the duke of the leprechaun stage coach

    Why was he being evicted?
    Why did he feel cornered with no other option?
    Was he on meds pushed down our throats as so often occurring these days.

    • Marvin

      why are people always trying to blame others for their bad decisions? Grow a pair, man up and take responsibility.

  • Can't get it out of my head

    I just can’t help but think and wonder why this child was not in school. I know that’s weird but if she had been at school she would still be alive.

  • jon

    ??? These guys are trained right .. So why the hell would he shoot. Him with a little girl stanging behide him . im sure there train for this and he could have been handled better .. Shoot the guy i the leg then dis arm him .think its a joke these days

    • jimbrony

      Shoot the guy in the leg – while he has a rifle pointed at your chest. Brilliant. You should consider being a hostage negotiator, self-defense or firearms instructor. (PS – kind of early to be hitting the bottle, or is your spell-checker turned off?)

    • magicmikexxsm

      *******So why the hell would he shoot. Him with a little girl standing be hide him.*******
      Gee maybe it was because he had a gun pointed at his chest, and maybe the constable had a little girl to go home to also….

  • Jon Lowris

    People are questioning whether constables should be carrying firearms when the man had a .223 pointed at the officer?

  • jimbrony

    How awful. The father Donald Meyer should also be charged with involuntary manslaughter. Seriously, how did he think this was going to play out? For whatever reason he was being evicted and the matter has already run through the courts. He pulls a gun on someone who is armed and in uniform. Did he think the constable would just walk away and say ‘never mind’? Now his daughter is dead and he will sit in jail for who knows how long, and the constable has to live with what he has done. I’m waiting for the people to come forward and say what a great person Donald is and how much he did for his daughter. What a waste.

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