A Pennsylvania cop said she was in fear for her life when she shot an unarmed man in the back after having already tased him, killing the 59-year-old man whom she had initially pulled over for an expired inspection sticker last month.
But that excuse didn’t work as it has so many other times when cops have shot and killed unarmed people.
Instead, Hummelstown police officer Lisa Mearkle was charged with homicide this week, a rare charge against officers who kill people in this country at a rate of more than one per day.
The evidence against her came from a video recorded by the taser she had used to subdue David Kassick, showing him laying facedown in the snow when she opened fire.
Mearkle, 36, gave the old, “I thought he was reaching for a gun,” which is usually a fail-proof method for cops to get out of any shooting.
But Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico didn’t buy it.
According to a statement from the district attorney’s office:
Following an investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police, Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico has concluded that Hummelstown Police Officer Lisa Mearkle was not justified in using deadly force in the February 2nd fatal shooting of David Kassick in South Hanover Township, Dauphin County. Accordingly, the Pennsylvania State Police filed a charge of Criminal Homicide against Officer Mearkle before Magisterial District Judge Lowell Witmer.
The investigation revealed that Officer Mearkle attempted to stop Mr. Kassick for an expired inspection sticker in Hummelstown when Mr. Kassick drove away and fled to his sister’s residence in South Hanover Township. Mr. Kassick then fled on foot from the officer. Officer Mearkle chased after Mr. Kassick and deployed her Taser device, striking Mr. Kassick with the probes in his back. Mr. Kassick fell to the snow covered ground and was lying face down on the ground. The officer yelled at him to get on the ground and to show his hands to her. She continued to deploy the Taser while Mr. Kassick was lying on the ground. Officer Mearkle fired two shots striking Mr. Kassick in the back, fatally wounding him.
A police officer is justified in using deadly force when it is reasonably necessary to protect the officer from death or serious bodily injury. Marsico noted that Mr. Kassick was unarmed and never brandished any object or item that could have been viewed as a potential weapon. The only item recovered near Mr. Kassick was a syringe. “We realize police officers place their lives on the lines every day, but an officer can only use deadly force when it is necessary,” Marsico said.
Mearkle’s attorney said she was acting in self-defense against an intoxicated man, whose blood-alcohol content was .02, well below the legal limit.
But the criminal complaint against Mearkle, which you can read here, says the video and audio from her taser shows that his hands were visible and that he never threatened to kill her.
The video still has not been released to the public.