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Everett police union seeks arbitration to get Troy Meade back on job

The Everett police union is seeking binding arbitration to reinstate Troy Meade, who was fired for killing a drunken man.

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By Diana Hefley
Herald Writer
@dianahefley
Published:
EVERETT -- The legal battle over a fatal police shooting in Everett is expected to stretch on and cost more.
The president of the Everett Police Officers Association has notified city officials that the union will continue to fight to get Troy Meade's job back. Everett police Sgt. James Collier sent a letter Thursday afternoon asking for binding arbitration.
The union's grievance committee alleges that Meade's termination was unjust.
Former Police Chief Jim Scharf fired Meade in June after a delayed internal investigation into the June 10, 2009, shooting of Niles Meservey outside the Chuckwagon Inn.
The investigation concluded that Meade violated department policies when he shot Meservey seven times from behind while the drunken man was seated in his car. Scharf decided that Meade was unfit to continue to be a police officer in Everett. The chief called Meade's actions that night "unfathomable."
Scharf noted that just 21 seconds elapsed from the time Meade alerted dispatchers that the situation was becoming risky to when he finished shooting. During more than half that time, Meade was shocking Meservey with a Taser electronic stun gun.
Meade was the first officer in county history to be charged with murder for a line-of-duty shooting. A Snohomish County jury acquitted him of all criminal charges. However, those same jurors under separate civil rules concluded that the shooting was not self-defense.
Meade has maintained that he feared for his life the night of the shooting and acted appropriately.
Union officials filed a grievance on Meade's behalf shortly after he was fired. City officials, however, upheld Scharf's decision.
Now the union wants an outside arbitrator to decide if Meade's termination was warranted.
A demand for binding arbitration is an option under the union's contract with the city.
Both sides will be allowed to present evidence to support their positions at proceedings that would be closed to the public.
The union and city agree that the arbitrator's decision is final. They can appeal the decision to a judge only under narrow circumstances, city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said.
"For all intents and purposes this will be the final decision," she said.
It's unclear how long the process will take. It could be several weeks to several months, Reardon said.
The union, which represents the rank-and-file officers, will be on the hook for its legal fees. Everett taxpayers will pay for lawyers fighting to keep Meade off the force. Both parties will split the costs for the arbitrator.
The shooting already has cost the city more than $1 million.
Attorneys have billed the city of Everett more than half of a million dollars to prepare for civil litigation and offer legal advice on labor matters. The city paid $500,000 to the Meservey's family to settle a civil lawsuit. City officials also agreed to pay Meade's criminal defense costs totaling about $240,000.
While on administrative leave for two years Meade was paid $183,984.87.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » EverettPoliceUnions

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