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​Dad charged in death of daughter shot by constable

NEW BLOOMFIELD, Pa. -- The father of a 12-year-old Pennsylvania girl accidentally shot by a constable serving eviction papers was charged Thursday with homicide in her death.

Donald Meyer, 57, pointed a loaded rifle at Constable Clark Steele on Jan. 11 and Steele fired a single shot in return. The bullet traveled through Meyer's arm and struck Ciara Meyer, who was standing behind her father.

"But for Donald Meyer, Jr.'s extremely reckless actions in pointing a loaded semi-automatic rifle at a uniformed law enforcement officer, Ciara Meyer would not have been killed," Perry County District Attorney Andrew Bender said Thursday, according to CBS affiliate WHP-TV.

"Mr. Meyer's reckless conduct, knowing that his daughter was standing behind him, triggered a chain of events that tragically led to the death of Ciara Meyer," Bender said.

Steele shot at Meyer in self-defense and will not face charges, the prosecutor said.

Meyer, who already faced aggravated assault and other charges in the case, was charged Thursday with homicide and involuntary manslaughter. He has been jailed without bail since his release from the hospital. His public defender did not immediately return a phone call Thursday seeking comment on the charges.

Authorities said Steele had gone to Meyer's apartment to evict the family. According to court documents, Meyer opened the door, closed it, then opened it again and briefly argued with Steele about the eviction before raising his rifle. Steele pulled out his service pistol and fired, and the bullet passed through Meyer's upper arm before hitting his daughter in the chest.

Police told WHP-TV Steele had been at the apartment twice before during the eviction process, but did not encounter any problems.

Meyer also faces a firearms charge. He was not permitted to have a gun under state law because he had been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility in 2011, Bender said. He allegedly falsified documents to purchase weapons, prosecutors said.

Meyer is due in court Feb. 12 for a preliminary hearing.

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