A case in point: Two marshals in Louisiana last November were pursuing a man named Chris Few when he fled with his 6-year-old son, Jeremy Mardis. Though Few was unarmed, officers soon opened fire on the car, killing the boy and seriously wounding his father. Both officers were arrested and are facing charges for their actions.
In Chicago last month, Bettie Jones, a church-going mother of five and grandmother of nine, was shot to death by police officers responding to a call of a man carrying a bat. The suspect was an upstairs neighbor of Jones. She let police into the building.
Later, after he allegedly became combative, police shot and killed the man but accidentally hit Jones in the chest with one bullet. More than 250 people crowded into the New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church for her funeral earlier this month.
Last January in Iowa, a police officer trying to shoot a family dog he thought was attacking him accidentally killed 34-year-old Autumn Steele. She was unarmed, and the shooting happened in front of her young child. In April, a sheriff’s reserve deputy in Tulsa inadvertently fired his gun instead of a Taser while trying to subdue Eric Harris, an unarmed 44-year-old black man. In August, 61-year-old Felix Kumi was shot and killed on a street in Mount Vernon, N.Y., where police where conducting an undercover gun sting operation. When a suspect pointed a gun at an officer’s head, the officer opened fire. He shot the suspect but accidentally killed Kumi, an unarmed bystander who was a veteran bus driver for a local school district.
In total, the list of accidental victims over the past year involved victims as young as 6 and as old as 61. At least three were female, and at least five were male. The accidents spanned the country, from California to Arizona to New York. Half of the victims were white. Several were black, and one was Hispanic. In each case, the victims were unarmed.
Earlier this week, the latest accident unfolded near Duncannon, Pa., when a local constable came to serve an eviction notice at the home of 12-year-old Ciara Meyer, who was standing behind her father when the officer came to the door. Police said that the girl’s 57-year-old father pointed a rifle at the constable’s chest and that the officer drew his gun and fired. The bullet went though the man’s arm and struck his daughter, authorities said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her father, Donald Meyer, 57, opened the door and then shut it, said Constable Bill Stoeffler, a spokesman with the Commonwealth Constables Association. Meyer opened the door again, Stoeffler said, and then raised a rifle that was slung across his body.
“The constable had no place to retreat to,” Stoeffler told the Post this week. “He had to respond immediately.” Stoeffler said the officer who fired the shot is “absolutely heartbroken over the outcome of this.”
In Pennsylvania, where Monday’s fatal shooting took place, constables are elected to their positions. They have limited authority to enforce laws, but they are authorized to carry guns and make arrests. Typically, constables serve warrants, transport prisoners and carry out other duties to support the court system. Constables must undergo 80 hours of basic training — compared to more than 750 hours for police training — along with additional training for those who use firearms.
The 12-year-old girl’s death is among at least 22 police shootings that have resulted in fatalities so far during 2016.
Ciara Meyer, known to her family and friends as “CeCe,” adored music, shopping and animals, according to an obituary. She aspired to a career in veterinary medicine. She often said the prayer at family dinners. A memorial service for the girl is scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, her family set up a GoFundMe page, with the goal of establishing a scholarship fund her Ciara’s name for victims of domestic violence. “While CeCe’s death was not directly caused by domestic violence, her life was impacted by it and the mental illness that may have been the root cause,” the site says. “We will continue to fight against this horrible reality that many face, so that others won’t suffer the same fate.”