Was He In Reverse? Ems & Firefighter Accounts Differ From Officer’s.
Destry Meikle was a model citizen. No criminal history, hard worker, church goer and family man. Yet he was still killed by a Law Enforcement Officer, John Tinsley of the Republic, Missouri Police Department.
Destry Meikle was just like every other regular citizen in America. He had a loving family, a good relationship with his God and a good job managing a local Walmart. He also had a history of having seizures. According to the CDC 5.1 million Americans have had a seizure with 2.9 million of those having active seizure disorders. Though seizures can happen to a person who has never had a seizure or a history of seizures, Destry had received a head wound as a child in a tragic logging accident and the result was to live with seizures.
Destry had not had a seizure in over a year and was on medication for his seizure disorder. He also was a legal driver in the state of Missouri with no limitations on his license, since it had been so long since his last seizure.
Destry was a model citizen. No criminal history, hard worker, church goer and family man. Yet, he was still killed by a Law Enforcement Officer. That man’s name is John Tinsley of the Republic Police Department.
Citizen on rampage in Republic, Missouri is what the local news articles read like. The media automatically started painting Destry as this horrible person. In reality, he had suffered a medical emergency and the person sent there to save him instead shot three bullets into him.
We at Southwest Missouri Cop Watchers took immediate interest in what happened to Destry and patiently waited till we knew what was eventually going to happen and that was the officer being declared justified by the Greene County Prosecutors Office.
(You can also follow Destry’s story at Justice 4 Destry Meikle on Facebook.)
After the case was closed we Sunshine requested the investigation. We searched over the documents and interviews and found contradictions that shocked us.
Before Destry came to rest in the garage he was driving and suffered a seizure. The car went off the road, rolled through a yard hitting a corner of one garage then continuing on to end inside the second garage. This is where Officer Tinsley started his encounter with Destry.
Destry started to come out of the seizure while in the garage; he was in a daze and described as incoherent at the scene. His car’s oil plate had broken and oil was now leaking on the floor and catching fire. We do believe Officer Tinsely’s narrative that Destry tried to back his car out of the garage. The evidence shows us that he tried to back up, but the car got stuck on the lumber now on the floor from the garage wall. We do not believe Destry, a man who had never been violent, tried to run Officer Tinsley over.
When Destry backed straight out, a ladder, floor mat and other debris under the car moved back with him. The ladder was sticking out on the passenger side which would have been the side Tinsley stood on. On page three of Tinsley’s interview he said, “his feet were tangled up in debris.” He also said he was struck by the car, but cannot remember what part of the car struck him. When he came out of the garage he is reported as saying he was hit in the chest. However, when interviewed about the encounter he said he couldn’t remember what part of his body was hit. (If he was standing on passenger side of the car facing it, he would have been hit on his right side.) Tinsley did complain about his left side hurting and a bruise on Tinsley’s back by his left shoulder blade was seen at the hospital.
This is where we doubt Officers Tinsley’s narrative. Officer Tinsley said the reason he had to fire his duty weapon at Destry was because he said that “he heard that known noise” when Destry shifted into drive. Officer Tinsley said he saw the car lunge forward at him.
There were witnesses outside of the garage, EMS and firefighter personnel and this is what they say they saw.
Blake is a RPD firefighter and this is what he saw as he approached the garage.
Chris is a EMT that arrived on scene before shots were fired and later drove Destry to the hospital.
Officer Hughes is a RPD police officer who helped remove Destry from his car after being shot.
Captain Klineline is a Fire Captain with RFD and is the person who shut Destry’s car off at the scene.
Everything said in these statements indicate that Destry’s vehicle was in reverse and actively reversing when Officer Tinsley shot his duty weapon three times at Destry. These statements do not validate Officer Tinsley’s narrative.
Officer Tinsley was standing a few feet in front and a few feet to the right side of Destry’s car. Tinsley was not directly in front of Destry’s car “as it lunges at him” and he fires his gun. There was plenty of space to his left he could have moved to where he would have been further away from the front of the car. But he stated that spot he chose was the safest so he stayed there. We do not feel Officer Tinsley did everything in his power to not take Destry’s life.
The role of our police officers are to “serve and protect”, as you can see Officer Tinsley did not follow those words. He did not “protect” an injured person, Destry, from a pending fire. Officer Tinsley’s actions may have come from an authoritarian attitude, or maybe the lack of training, or just plain carelessness, but a man lost his life and there should be some type of accountability.
Now, in no way, do we believe that Officer Tinsley woke up the morning of February 16th with the intentions of using his duty weapon to kill a person. What we are saying, though, is Officer Tinsley did not do everything he could to help Destry. There has to be some type of acceptance of responsibility or what we are telling Mr. Meikles’ family is that his life is not held to the same value as an officers’.
We are not saying Officer Tinsley should be sentenced to life in prison, but he should not be allowed to continue carrying a badge and gun and to make the same mistakes he did and take another innocent person’s life.
Our opinion: It is our opinion after looking over the evidence that was given to the prosecutor that Officer Tinsely started firing his weapon as soon as he got up from the debris that knocked him down. The trajectory of the bullets indicate that Officer Tinsely moved while he fired three bullets. Two bullets through the right side of the windshield and one through the open passenger window. This is also supported by the witnesses saying the car was actively reversing when the shots were fired. If Tinsely moved from right to left in the garage he would have been moving towards a “lunging car” . If he moved left to right he would have fired into the passenger window first then walked to the front side of a “lunging” car to fire the last two shots. So it is our opinion that after being knocked down Tinsley got up while Destry was still reversing started firing and moved from right to left.
According to the report, Tinsely stood about here and then moved towards the car and to the left while firing. Tinsley never reported crawling over the debris to his left while firing.
We do not know why the skid marks are off on their diagram. We could not see anything in their pictorial evidence to show us the skid marks were not aligned with the tires. All pictures of the scene also showed skid marks were from the right side of the vehicle, not the left. It is unknown to us why these skidmarks would be on the opposite side.
The red arrows in the following photographs indicate where Sgt. Tinsley stood when he started firing on Destry.