By Rikki King Herald Writer
EVERETT — A Washington State Patrol trooper was disciplined earlier this year for an on-duty collision in Skagit County involving an Everett woman.
The trooper violated the patrol’s driving policies Feb. 20 when he made an unsafe U-turn on Highway 20, according to the internal investigation.
As the trooper made the U-turn, a woman who had been driving behind him crossed the center line and struck his patrol car.
She and her passenger were seriously injured. The trooper was unhurt.
Investigators allege that the Everett woman, Joanna Kasner, 44, was under the influence at the time. They reportedly found marijuana and an empty wine bottle in her car, and said she smelled of alcohol.
Kasner was charged with DUI earlier this summer in Skagit County court. She disputes the allegations, and her case is pending.
In March, the trooper, Jeffrey Meldrum, 47, signed a discipline settlement agreement with the State Patrol regarding the crash, public records show. He agreed to be docked two vacation days. He also agreed to accept additional discipline if he gets in trouble again within the next three years.
Before the crash, Meldrum was one of more than 40 law enforcement officers who are on the “Brady” list in Snohomish County courts. Prosecutors must alert defense attorneys when “Brady” officers may be called as witnesses, because there could be credibility questions.
Meldrum was added to the list in Snohomish County in 2011, records show. He reportedly admitted that he lied to investigators after one of his family members accidentally shot herself in the hand while he was at work in 2005. Meldrum lives and works in Skagit County. In that case, Meldrum was given a 15-day suspension, but the discipline was suspended under a last-chance employment agreement, records show. Meldrum kept his job and agreed not to have any similar violations again.
In the crash case, Meldrum was given a three-day suspension with one of the days put on hold unless he violates policies within the next three years. As part of the agreement, Meldrum waived his right to sue or file a labor grievance against the State Patrol regarding the issue. Meldrum then opted to give up two vacation days instead of the two-day suspension, records show.
He has been on the force since 1990, and has accrued six weeks of unused vacation time.
Meanwhile, Kasner says that for medical reasons she took tetrahydrocannabinol or “THC” oil, a derivative of the marijuana plant, about 6 a.m. that day but was sober when the crash happened.
“I wasn’t high or intoxicated in any shape or form,” she said.
She said she was behind the trooper for three or four miles when she saw his car pull to the right. She thought he was stopping and swerved to avoid him before the T-bone collision, she said.
It was dark at the time, about 6:45 p.m. Kasner was headed home to Everett after visiting her grandkids in rural Skagit County. She does not dispute that there was marijuana and marijuana “edibles” in her car, as she has worked in the medical marijuana business.
Her next court hearing is scheduled for November.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.