Little 12-year-old Ciara Meyer decided to stay home from school on Monday, because she was sick. That turned out to be a fatal decision. A Pennsylvania police officer came to the door to “enforce an eviction order,” and “within seconds,” she was dead.
Constable Clarke Steele said when he came to the apartment door, Ciara’s father Donald Meyer, 56, opened it, then closed it. Then he immediately opened the door again, holding a rifle. Steele claims that Meyer pointed the gun at him, so he fired at the man.
The bullet passed through Meyer’s arm, and hit Ciara. The child died on the scene, and her father went to the hospital with a non-life-threatening wound.
The reason Steele was at the apartment was to enforce an eviction notice for the court. The landlord filed a complaint with a district court in November, saying the family’s rent was delinquent. As a result, Judge Daniel McGuire issued an order of possession for the end of December.
Steele suspended himself after the shooting, according to the Commonwealth Constables Association. The association, where Steele is a member and elected officer, acts independently of Pennsylvania’s larger law enforcement agencies.
The association provides volunteers at local events in the region and on behalf of the area’s lower courts.
State police launched an investigation to determine whether or not Steele will be charged. Meyer is currently charged with reckless endangerment, simple assault, aggravated assault, and making terroristic threats.
The police killed Ciara only weeks the officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio walked out of court, free and unscathed. Like Ciara, Tamir was shot within mere moments of the police arriving on the scene.
Tamir was only holding a toy gun, but the two officers still let him bleed for four minutes before administering aid. When the boy’s 14-year-old sister arrived, police handcuffed her as she watched her brother die on the ground.
Ciara’s death highlights how ill-equipped police often are to handle children at the scene of the arrest. A recent IACP study verified that few departments provide their officers with policies to handle the presence of children during an arrest.
Approximately 1.7 million children currently have a parent in prison, so potentially, millions of children witness the arrest of their parents. They face the trauma associated with seeing guns pointed at their parent, seeing that parent handcuffed, and then taken away. Not only that, the situation often puts the children at physical risk.
Six percent of arrest-related deaths are accidents, according to a 2011 Bureau of Justice Statistics report. According to a database compiled by the Guardian, police have shot and killed 20 people already this year.
One death is too many.
Featured Image: Ciara Meyer on Facebook via ABC27.com.