While serving an eviction notice, a Pennsylvania constable entered an apartment with his gun drawn. Seconds later, he had shot a 12-year-old girl, who died almost instantly in front of her father’s eyes. However, instead of the officer being charged, the little girl’s father was the one convicted of her murder.
Penn Township Police Constable Clark Steele headed to an apartment complex in Harrisburg with eviction papers to serve the tenants. Minutes earlier, shots were heard fired inside an apartment. A rumor had circulated that a man had been shot, a young girl was incapacitated, and a woman was still inside.
Fearing a hostage situation, Constable Steele drew his firearm and knocked on the door. As the door opened, Steele came face-to-face with Donald Meyer, who had a rifle aimed straight at the officer’s chest. Disturbingly, the next few seconds would change both of their lives forever.
Penn Live reports that Constable Steele fired one shot at Meyer, striking him in the arm and traveling straight into the chest of 12-year-old Ciara Meyer, who was standing 20 feet directly behind her father. The wounded father fell to the floor in agony, allowing Steele to secure the area and access the damage.
Steele states that he didn’t even know that anyone had been shot, much less killed. When Police Chief Richard Pickles stepped in to see the child lying lifeless on the floor, he claims that Meyer said his daughter had fainted, adding that he needed medical attention because he’d been shot. Pickles checked Ciara to discover that she was dead, later finding a loaded rifle, which he handed over to another officer.
Meyer was lying on the floor, saying “I’m hit, I’m hit, help me,” Pickles said.
He looked over at Ciara, who was motionless on the floor, and Meyer told him, “Don’t worry about her, she’s just passed out. Help me,” the chief said.
Despite never firing a shot, Meyer was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, homicide, and involuntary manslaughter for the death of his daughter, according to ABC7. Meyer was reportedly not legally permitted to utilize a firearm because he had been involuntarily committed to a mental health institution 5 years earlier. However, during his trial, the father claimed that he had grabbed his rifle because he was fearful that his home was being invaded, EMT Victoria Green testified.
“He just stated someone rang the doorbell, he looked outside, couldn’t find anybody, and he went to get a firearm,” Green said.
However, Steele argued that he discharged his weapon in self-defense as soon as he saw the rifle pointed at him. He quickly retreated, not knowing if the shot hit anyone. He then called for backup, waiting until Pickles and several other officers arrived.
Meyer was found guilty of third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, 2 counts of aggravated assault, simple assault, endangerment of a child, 2 counts of reckless endangerment, and terroristic threats. Meyer insisted that he’s the victim of a conspiracy. He bizarrely laughed in court and threatened the judge while promising to appeal.
“I really don’t care,” he told the judge. “I know where you live.”
As for Ciara’s mother, she admits that the guilty verdict comes as a relief. She is thankful that she can put the painful memories of her daughter’s murder and those of her husband behind her.
“It’s justice for my daughter,” said Sherry Meyer, who was in the home the day her daughter was shot in an eviction gone wrong. “Now I know I can put it and him behind me. Many times, me and my daughter feared for our lives. To me her life meant everything. It hurt me immensely. He can’t take anything else from me.”
Clark Steele is grateful for the conviction but has trouble thinking about Ciara Meyer’s death, adding that he can’t get over the death of the innocent child. No matter how much prison time Donald Meyer serves, nothing can bring back the innocent child’s life that was lost because of his reckless behavior.