Father charged after girl, 12, is killed by police constable

Story highlights

  • Father aimed rifle at constable, who had gone to deliver eviction notice, police say
  • The constable fired a single shot, which hit the father in the arm, then killed his daughter

(CNN)The father of a 12-year-old has been charged with homicide after the girl was accidentally shot to death by a police constable in Pennsylvania, authorities said.

Ciara Meyer was killed by a police constable who was serving eviction papers at their apartment in Perry County on January 11.
    Constable Clark Steele's action was justified, and he did not face any charges in the shooting, authorities said.
    Her father, Donald Meyer, 57, was charged with homicide and involuntary manslaughter Thursday, according to CNN affiliate WHP .
    "Meyer's reckless conduct, knowing his daughter was standing behind him, triggered a chain of events that tragically led to the death of Ciara Meyer," District Attorney Andrew Bender told the affiliate.

    Eviction notice

    During the incident this month, the constable was at Meyer's apartment to serve a valid eviction notice, authorities said.
    The girl's father pointed a loaded rifle at Steele, and the constable fired a single shot, authorities said. The bullet traveled through Meyer's arm and struck Ciara, who was standing behind her father.
    "They're responsible for the murder and shooting of my daughter and me, and now it's a big cover up," Meyer told the affiliate.
    "They're charging me with a felony for protecting my family?"

    More charges

    Meyer's latest charges of homicide and involuntary manslaughter add on to previous ones that included aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person, according to a Pennsylvania State Police report.
    Meyer also faces a firearms charge, because under state law he was not allowed to have a gun because of past mental issues, authorities told the affiliate.

    'They knew who it was'

    Donald Meyer knew the constable was coming, Pennsylvania State Trooper Robert Hicks told CNN affiliate WPMT. His family had received multiple notifications, with the last making it clear a constable was on the way with an eviction notice.
    "When they heard the knock, they knew who it was," Hicks said.
    When Steele arrived at 10 a.m. Monday, "the suspect opened the door to the residence and then shut it," according to the police report.
    Meyer then reopened the door and, after "a brief exchange of words," leveled a rifle that had been concealed and aimed it at Steele.
    "Constable Steele, who was in uniform, quickly removed his .40 caliber duty weapon from its holster and fired a single round," the police report said, noting that employees of the apartment complex witnessed the encounter.
    That bullet "shattered the bone in (Meyer's) left arm," Hicks told CNN affiliate WHTM-TV, then went into the body of Ciara, who had stayed home sick from school.
    She was pronounced dead at the scene.
    Pennsylvania constables are not police officers but elected officials. They may be tasked with certain aspects of law enforcement in the duty of the courts, according to the Pennsylvania court system.