After the shooting, Meyers said he turned over his gun but doesn’t remember driving home and at that time had no idea how Abbott was. “It just seemed surreal,” he said. “You train for stuff like it. It just didn’t seem like it was happening.”
As soon as he got home, the father of two children knelt next to the love seat. “I prayed Melissa wouldn’t die,” he said. “I didn’t want her to die.”
The next morning, he got the call from the police chief that Abbott had died. “I remember getting off the phone and just thinking ‘I killed somebody. I took a life and that’s a big deal.’ It’s still a big deal to me.”
He deactivated all his social media accounts and only recently has restarted some of them. “Occasionally I still get hate messages,” he noted. “I get it, that stuff just happens.”
However, he never second-guessed or doubted his decision to use lethal force, Meyers said.
He also had a lot of support from fellow officers, the community and even some members of Abbott’s family. Still, he started drinking too much alcohol and eating unhealthy foods as he tried to cope with the shooting. “I had my own posttraumatic stress disorder and mental health stuff. I was coping with liquor. It was bad, really bad. I gained about 40 pounds. For 3½ years I really struggled.”
After Meyers was cleared in the shooting and it was ruled he acted in self-defense by Steve Gibbs, the Chippewa County district attorney, he was given his firearm back. “I cleaned it and I started crying,” Meyers said. “It was more than just a gun. I killed someone with it.”
A lawsuit was filed in Abbott’s death against Meyers but was later dismissed.
Still, there are triggers in the news and in his job that still bring back the stress Meyers has had to deal with. A Walmart shooting in Texas in 2019 and a Lake Hallie bank robbery the same year triggered Meyers’ trauma. “This year some fireworks started to bother me,” he noted. “It got me anxious.”
He takes antidepressants, which help him, and he is working to no longer need them.
“I know a lot of cops don’ t like talking about it, especially those involved with shooting,” Meyers said. “No matter how difficult it is for me. I think it’s important to share to help others.”