Pennsylvania police officer Lisa Mearkle has been charged with criminal homicide, after investigators concluded she shot an unarmed and incapacitated driver twice in the back while he lay facedown on the ground.
The incident took place on February 2, according to the Associated Press, when Mearkle attempted to pull over 59-year-old David Kassick for expired inspection and emissions tags. Kassick sped away, and Mearkle gave chase, catching up with him near his sister’s house. After Kassick exited his vehicle and ran, Mearkle incapacitated the unarmed man with a stun gun held in her left hand. According to authorities, she then shot him twice in the back with a gun held in her other hand while he lay facedown on the ground.
Offc. Lisa Mearkle leaving arraignment in handcuffs, bail denied, heading to jail on criminal homicide charges. pic.twitter.com/zFuzTawQ4a
— Kendra Nichols (@KNichols_abc27) March 24, 2015
Mearkle has alleged that she shot Kassick because he refused to show his hands, claiming that she believed he was reaching inside his jacket for a gun. Her stun gun, however, is equipped with a camera, according to the Guardian, and recorded portions of the encounter. According to district attorney Ed Marsico, Kassick appears in the video to be attempting to remove the stun gun darts from his back.
“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,” the arrest affidavit states. “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.”
Mearkle waited four seconds between shots, and performed CPR on Kassick after shooting him. Alcohol and unspecified drugs were found in Kassick’s system after he was killed, and a syringe was discovered near his body. Lawyers for Kassick’s family confirmed that he struggled with addiction.
Christopher Slusser, one of the family’s attorneys, noted that Kassick had died as a result of a routine stop.
“He should not be dead. He should not have died as a result of that traffic stop. And the manner in which he was shot — you can infer from that what you will.”
— WPMT FOX43 (@fox43) March 24, 2015
Earlier this month, police in Georgia shot and killed an unarmed, mentally unstable man. As the Inquisitr previously reported, Anthony Hill was naked when he charged an officer, who fired twice, killing him.
Mearkle has been jailed without bail following the charges. The police department released a statement saying they had cooperated fully with the investigation, calling the shooting of the unarmed man by Lisa Mearkle “an extremely difficult case for all involved.”
[Image: Dan Gleiter/AP via the Guardian]