On Thursday, a jury acquitted Officer Lisa Mearkle for shooting David Kassick in Pennsylvania, who was pulled over for an expired inspection sticker. The same day, video of the deadly encounter was released by the local D.A., showing Kassick face down on the ground and obeying Mearkle’s orders before being shot twice.
The fatal traffic stop happened back in February. When Hummelstown Borough Police Department officer tried to pull over Kassick, the man escaped to his sister’s home nearby. A brief foot chase ensued, and the video begins with the officer yelling for Kassick to get on the ground. Mearkle fires her taser — 50,000 volts — into his back, and he writhes in pain in submission. Complying with Mearkle’s commands, Kassick makes his hands visible. As he lays face down on the ground, Mearkle shoots him with her gun, twice.
Watch the video:
Mearkle was charged with homicide last March.
“At the time Officer Mearkle fires both rounds from her pistol, the video clearly depicts Kassick lying on the snow covered lawn with his face toward the ground, furthermore, at the time the rounds are fired nothing can be seen in either of Kassick’s hands, nor does he point or direct anything toward Officer Mearkle,” District Attorney Ed Marisco wrote in an affidavit.
Mearkle has maintained that she was acting in self-defense. Kassick was unarmed, but during her trial, Mearkle explained that she believed Kassick was holding a weapon. “There was no reason for him to reach into his frigging jacket,” she said.
She also criticized prosecutors for charging her with murder.
“I’m a good police officer. This [arrest] should not have happened to me. I believe I could continue to be a police officer,” Mearkle testified. “I was only charged for political reasons. That’s how I feel.”
After the not-guilty verdict, President Les Neri of the local police union applauded the decision and slammed the public for criticizing cops.
“The demonizing of police officers who are forced to make split-second decisions unfairly tarnishes the work done by good police officers. It ignores the unreasonable actions or crimes committed by those who created these situations in the first place,” he wrote in a press statement.
In September, the Wall Street Journal reported that a record number of 12 officers have been charged for shootings this year. Most cops are not indicted for killing, but the overwhelming majority of those who are charged are not convicted.
According to the Washington Post database, 834 people have been shot and killed by cops in 2015.