Everett police chief delays retirement until internal investigation of shooting is complete

EVERETT — City officials announced Monday that Everett Police Chief Jim Scharf will delay his retirement until the department completes an internal investigation into the fatal shooting by officer Troy Meade.

“This incident happened under my watch, and it is important to me to see this investigation to its conclusion,” Scharf said in a written statement.

This is the first time Scharf has made any public statements about the June 10, 2009 shooting that left Niles Meservey dead.

Scharf had planned to retire March 31. Dozens gathered at a reception in Everett last week to honor Scharf and mark his 16 years as police chief.

“I’ve known Jim Scharf for more than 20 years, and I’ve watched him serve as a leader all that time. He’s never been one to shy away from a difficult situation. I admire his commitment to see this investigation to its completion,” Sheriff John Lovick said Monday after the announcement was made.

The internal investigation is expected to be finished no later than the end of June, according to Monday’s press release.

Scharf had selected his retirement date before it was clear when a civil lawsuit over the shooting would be concluded, according to the statement.

The city agreed in February to pay $500,000 to Meservey’s daughter. She filed a lawsuit claiming that Everett failed to properly train Meade. The trial was scheduled to begin in mid-April.

Meservey died after being shot by Meade during a confrontation outside the Chuckwagon Inn. Meservey was drunk, refused to get out of his vehicle and drove into a metal fence. Meade shot Meservey seven times from behind.

A jury last year acquitted Meade of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. However, jurors asked to decide if the state should reimburse Meade’s legal expenses, ruled the shooting was not self-defense.

The city picked up the $240,000 legal tab.

Meade has remained on paid administrative leave for nearly two years. He’s been paid about $116,000 during that time.

The department delayed an internal investigation into the shooting until the civil case was settled.

In preparation for the civil case, Scharf gave a deposition to Seattle attorney Paul Luvera. During that questioning the chief said that it was his decision to bypass department policy and delay the investigation.

He told Luvera the situation was unique, so he opted to wait to order an internal review of the shooting.

“Because in fairness to Officer Meade regarding the internal investigation process, I deemed it important that we wait for the end of all criminal and civil processes before we completed the internal investigation or even start one up,” Scharf said in the Feb. 10 deposition.

“I made the determination not to adhere to this particular policy in this case because of the uniqueness of the situation involved,” he said later.

Meade is the first officer in Snohomish County to be charged with a crime for a line-of-duty shooting. The prosecutor’s decision to charge Meade was controversial, but within the police department, so was Scharf’s decision to delay the internal investigation.

Scharf has declined to comment publicly about the shooting. He’s referred all media inquiries to an attorney hired to defend the city.

City officials again on Monday referred questions to Seattle attorney Lou Peterson. Herald reporters stopped calling Peterson after obtaining billings that showed he was charging the city for each call, typically saying little more than “no comment.”

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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