Everett officer did not act in self-defense, jury finds

EVERETT — A Snohomish County jury has ruled that Everett police officer Troy Meade did not act in self-defense when he fatally shot a drunken Stanwood man last summer.

The jury split 11-1 on the decision, with the majority deciding that Meade’s shooting of Niles Meservey did not meet the legal definition of self-defense.

The key question before the jury today was “Did the defendant, Troy Meade, prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the use of force was lawful?”

Meade’s defense to second-degree murder and manslaughter was based in part on his belief that he was properly using force to defend himself and others.

Meade said he was disappointed by today’s decision, but still grateful for the jury’s decision to acquit him of criminal charges.

“I want to thank the jury for the decision. I respect that,” he said.

The ruling means Meade’s legal expenses won’t be paid by the state. Reimbursing a defendant’s expenses is an option under state law when somebody is acquitted of criminal charges after making a self-defense claim.

Today’s verdict also sends a mixed message about the jury’s perspective on Meservey’s death. Jurors declined to be interviewed by reporters gathered at the courthouse. They also brushed past legal staff from the city of Everett who are preparing to fight a $15 million lawsuit over the fatal shooting.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matthew Baldock and a lawyer representing Meade spoke privately with jurors after they were excused and thanked for their service by Superior Court Judge Gerald Knight.

Baldock made it clear he wasn’t speaking for the jurors. He said it was evident jurors understood the different legal standards that needed to be applied to the evidence at each stage of the case.

In the criminal trial they had to determine if Meade was justified in shooting because he felt his life was threatened. In this phase of the trial, however, civil legal rules prevailed and the definition of a “justified” use of force was different.

Jurors were instructed to apply an objective standard, meaning whether a “reasonably prudent person, under the same or similar conditions existing at the time of the incident, would have used the same degree of force” as Meade.

In the criminal phase of the trial, the standard was subjective, meaning what Meade perceived was most important. They also were instructed that actual danger was not necessary to find Meade’s actions justified.

Baldock said it was fair to say that the jury saw the difference between what Meade thought he saw versus the reality of what unfolded outside the Chuckwagon Inn.

“I think we see that reflected in their verdicts,” he said.

The same jury on Monday acquitted Meade of all criminal charges after about five hours of deliberations. Once that decision was announced, Knight told jurors their job wasn’t done.

During the criminal phase of the trial, jurors needed to reach a unanimous verdict to decide the case. They voted 12-0 to acquit Meade on both counts, second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter.

During the civil phase, jurors didn’t have to reach a unanimous verdict. They needed just 10 votes. They also were told to decide the issue based on a preponderance of the evidence. That means they believed their finding about what happened was more likely than not.

In the criminal trial, the standard of proof was higher — beyond a reasonable doubt. Meade was presumed innocent, and prosecutors had the burden of proof.

In the civil phase, Meade shouldered the burden of proof and had to demonstrate his actions were justified.

If the lawsuit filed against Everett in the shooting goes to trial, it also will be subject to civil rules.

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - In this photo taken Oct. 2, 2018, semi-automatic rifles fill a wall at a gun shop in Lynnwood, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee is joining state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to propose limits to magazine capacity and a ban on the sale of assault weapons. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Democrats advance assault weapons ban, new rules for gun buyers

The measures passed a House committee without Republican support. They are part of a broader agenda to curb gun violence.

A person and child watch seagulls on the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry in Washington on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Cold weather returning to Western Washington

Nightly temperatures in the 20s with highs in the 30s were expected this weekend. Cold weather shelters will be open.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
Former VA-115 member Jack Keegan speaks at a presentation on base commemorating the last crew from NAS Whidbey Island shot down during the Vietnam War.
Whidbey Island air base honors crew lost in Vietnam War

NAS Whidbey Island will host several upcoming events commemorating the end of the Vietnam War.

New Monroe superintendent Shawn Woodward during his panel interview on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023 in Monroe, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Incoming superintendent says he’s ‘done homework on Monroe’

Shawn Woodward has faced issues of racism, equity and inclusion as the leader of the Mead School District near Spokane.

James Lewis
COVID still ‘simmering’ in the county, while booster uptake remains low

Meanwhile, flu and RSV cases have plummeted, suggesting the “tripledemic” could — emphasis on “could” — be fading.

Everett police have made an arrest in a Saturday shooting at Player's Sports Bar & Grill. (Everett Police Department)
Charges: Everett bar shooting suspect faces up to 50 years in prison

Francisco Cuahutemoc Vazquez has a violent history that dates to 2015, when he was involved in gangs.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring is this year's winner of the Henry M. Jackson Award given by Economic Alliance Snohomish County. Photographed in Marysville, Washington on April 25, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Marysville State of the City address set for Feb. 1

Mayor Jon Nehring will highlight 2022 accomplishments and look to the future. Questions from the audience will follow.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
A move to require voting and a bicameral chasm on vehicle pursuits

It’s Day 19 and the mood is heating up as the third week of the 2023 legislative session comes to an end.

Lynnwood County Council candidate Joshua Binda is the subject of two complaints with the Public Disclosure Commission. (Josh Binda campaign photo)
Binda fined $1,000 for misuse of campaign contributions

The Lynnwood Council member’s personal use of donor funds was a “serious violation” of campaign law, the state PDC concluded.

Most Read