A Snohomish County jury on Monday found an Everett police officer not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the shooting death of a drunken driving suspect.
Officer Troy Meade's wife cried out, "Yes!" as the verdicts were read.
"I didn't think I was going to go to jail, because I knew I did the right thing," said the officer.
Jurors apparently agreed with Meade, who testified that he felt he had no options other than to shoot Niles Meservey when the man refused to get out of his car.
"My heart goes out to his family, but it was preventable," Meade said. "All he had to do was cooperate, and he just didn't."
During the trial, Meade said Meservey him gave him "nothing but problems" from the minute he arrived on the scene.
"(I explained) that we had received a 911 call...He started swearing, 'This is f-ing entrapment. This is f-ing entrapment' over and over, and over again."
Meservey, 51, of Stanwood, was intoxicated and sitting in his Corvette in the parking lot of Chuckwagon Inn last June when witnesses, worried Meservey would drive away, called police.
Meade was one of several officers who responded and boxed in Meservey's car with their patrol cars.
Meade said Meservey, 51, refused to get out of his Corvette after he had hit him with a Taser. The car lurched and Meade said he thought he was about to be pinned.
"The vehicle started to come at me," Meade testified.
Meade then opened fire, hitting Meservey seven times.
Prosecutors asked Meade why he resorted to opening fire instead of using the Taser again, asking a nearby officer for help or utilizing his pepper spray or baton. Meade said he believed warning shots were not an option since the Taser didn't work the first time.
"It's not that I didn't think of that; I didn't think they were options," he said. "I was in shock. I didn't want to kill somebody."
Snohomish County prosecutors said Meade intentionally killed Meservey, and another officer who was at the scene testified that he didn't believe the shooting was necessary to prevent Meservey from driving away.
Officer Steve Klocker told investigators that after the driver refused to comply, he heard Meade tell him, "I don't know why the (expletive) I'm trying to save your dumb (expletive), maybe to keep you from killing yourself or driving."
Klocker told investigators he remembers seeing the cars' "back-up lights." Klocker also said prior to opening fire, Meade said something along the lines of, "Time to end this, enough is enough."
Meservey's family has also filed a claim against the city of Everett, demanding up to $15 million.
In a written statement released after Monday's verdict was read, Meservey's daughter, Tanda Louden, said she is confident that a jury in a civil case will find Meade responsible for her father's death.
"I am sorry the jury was unable to convict Officer Meade of a crime, but I understand how difficult it is to obtain a conviction where there is a presumption of innocence and a burden of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt," she said.