Police charged a father with homicide after a law enforcement official accidentally shot his 12-year-old daughter.
Constable Clarke Steele shot the child after her father, 57-year-old Donald Meyer, allegedly leveled a gun at the cop, CNN reports.
Meyer’s daughter, Ciara, was standing behind her father when Steele fired shots in self-defense. One bullet hit Donald’s arm, while the other hit the girl.
Steele had paid a visit to the family residence to serve Meyer an eviction notice after he failed to respond to previous notifications, CNN reports.
“[Meyer] put the constable in a situation where he had to make a decision to use deadly force, and he did, and now we have this tragedy,” said Trooper Rob Hicks, reports WPMT.
However, Meyer believes the charges of homicide as well as involuntary manslaughter are unfair.
"They're responsible for the murder and shooting of my daughter and me, and now it's a big cover up," Meyer said. "They're charging me with a felony for protecting my family?"
Steele confided to his friend Bill Stoeffler, also a constable, that this incident has deeply affected him.
“This is a situation that happened very suddenly and very violently,” Stoeffler said. “He was put in a position from which he couldn't retreat safely. He had no other option really than to do what he did and respond as he did.
“[Steele] is heartsick and heartbroken over the outcome,” he added. “[It’s] every constable's absolute worst nightmare.”
Meanwhile, Ciara’s family has set up a GoFundMe page. The funds raised will go toward battling domestic violence and mental illness, as well as funeral expenses.
“While her death was not the result of domestic violence, the family issues and mental illness that surrounded her and lead to this tragedy certainly qualifies,” they write, although reports so far have not revealed a connection to mental illness in this case.
While many expressed anger at the parents as well as skepticism, some strangers sympathized and donated.
"I didn't even know this little girl. She reminds me of my niece that is the same age … I know that this little girl was loved by her family (including her father). My heart aches for the family and all of her friends,” Linda Bosley, who donated $50 twice, said.