By Diana Hefley, Herald Writer
EVERETT — A police officer blinked back tears Thursday as he told a Snohomish County jury there was no reason for Troy Meade to fatally shoot a drunken man who was sitting in a car.
Focused and sometimes emotional, Everett police officer Steven Klocker testified for about an hour Thursday afternoon in Meade’s trial, the first time a Snohomish County police officer has been charged with murder for a line-of-duty shooting.
Klocker is expected to be back on the witness stand today to answer more questions about what he saw and heard.
Meade, an 11-year Everett police veteran, is accused of illegally shooting Niles Meservey after the drunken man drove into a metal fence and refused to obey the officer’s orders to get out of his vehicle.
Meade is expected to testify that he shot in self-defense. Today his attorney, David Allen, likely will continue questioning Klocker about the credibility of the statements he gave to investigators.
Klocker said he spent 20 years as a military police officer and has served with the Everett department for a decade.
On Thursday, prosecutors questioned Klocker for about a half-hour in the packed courtroom. Klocker sat facing jurors. He didn’t look at Meade as he answered questions.
Twice during his testimony, Klocker fought tears as he described what happened outside the Chuckwagon Inn on June 10.
He recalled how Meade repeatedly ordered the driver out of his vehicle. He sensed that the situation was spiralling out of control. Klocker said he was preparing to break out a window and use a Taser stun gun when he noticed that Meade had his Taser out. He approached the driver’s door to help Meade and later moved away to reposition Meade’s patrol car.
Klocker told investigators he didn’t want the patrol car to be broadsided and damaged if the Corvette backed up. On the stand, he said he thought moving the car behind the Corvette, so that the push bar on the bumper would face the Corvette’s bumper, was a better tactic, and would ensure the driver didn’t go anywhere.
He told jurors that nobody was in harm’s way before Meade opened fire.
Meade wasn’t standing where he could be run over by the Corvette, Klocker said. There also were other options besides shooting, including using pepper spray, trying the Taser again or simply going “hands on” with the driver and pulling him from the vehicle, he said.
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor John Adcock asked Klocker to recount what happened immediately before the gunfire erupted.
After a deep breath and a lengthy pause, Klocker described how Meservey’s car lurched into a fence. Then, he said, Meade took one or two steps away from the Corvette, turned in Klocker’s direction and said something like “enough is enough; time to end this.”
“He spun around …. and commenced shooting,” Klocker said.
What was Klocker’s reaction?
“Well, I was kind of at a loss,” Klocker said. “I was wondering what I missed to bring it to that extreme level of application of force.”
Klocker told jurors that he gave his first statement about what happened hours after the shooting. He then left on a planned vacation to attend a relative’s graduation in California.
Adcock asked Klocker if while he was away he had time to reflect more on the shooting.
“I call it more like nightmares,” Klocker said. “I relive it to this day. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.”
As he spoke, Klocker’s eyes welled with tears for a second time.
Klocker said it was while he was away in California that he recalled what Meade said.
Meade’s attorney told jurors on Wednesday that Klocker wasn’t a credible witness. He accused the officer of embellishing his story each time he talked to investigators and lawyers.
On Thursday, Allen stopped just short of calling Klocker a coward.
“Isn’t it also possible you didn’t want to help officer Meade. That’s a possibility too, isn’t it?” Allen asked. “Isn’t it a fact that when you showed up at the scene, you didn’t help him one single bit? Instead of standing next to the car and being cover you retreated behind officer Meade’s car didn’t you?”
Klocker said he didn’t retreat; he stepped back to reposition Meade’s car. He told Allen that he took offense at the inference that he’d abandoned his fellow officer.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; email@example.com.