Lisa Mearkle, the police officer who was charged with the murder of an unarmed motorist while he was lying face-down on the ground, has been acquitted of all charges.
In February of this year, Mearkle, 37, shot and killed the 59-year-old David Kassick after he fled from her attempts to stop him for carrying an expired auto inspection sticker, according to Penn Live. The fatal incident took place at Kassick’s sister’s home in the small South Hanover Township in the northeastern state of Pennsylvania.
According to reports, Lisa Mearkle first repeatedly shot Kassick with her taser gun, and when he was writhing on the ground as a result of those attacks, the Hummelstown police officer unexpectedly shot him twice in the back, killing Kassick on the spot. The incident caused a huge media furor at the time, with many criticizing Mearkle for not handling the situation in a responsible manner.
In her defense, Mearkle had stated that Kassick refused to show his hands, and she believed he may have been pulling for a gun. As it turned out, he was unarmed.
In the aftermath of the incident, the Hummelstown police officer was charged with third-degree murder and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter charges in a shooting captured by a camera attached to her stun gun. The Inquisitr previously reported that the lawyer representing the victim’s family had been keen to try and release the video for the public, and while it was not done at the time, it has been released by Dauphin County district attorney’s office.
On Thursday, a Dauphin County jury acquitted Lisa Mearkle of all charges. NBC News reports that the jury began deliberating Wednesday afternoon before delivering its decision Thursday afternoon following the two-day trial. The death video was played for the jurors at the trial.
Mearkle’s lawyer, Brian Perry, said the video needs to be placed in the context of the entire saga that unfolded before the fatal shots were fired. According to him, Lisa Mearkle fired the deadly shots at a time when dispatchers were talking to her by radio and Kassick’s brother was yelling at her to stop shocking him with the stun gun. He argued that the conflict had escalated to the point where it was reasonable for Mearkle to conclude that Kassick was reaching for a weapon.
However, prosecutor Johnny Baer pointed out at the trial the Hummelstown police officer “took David’s life without justification. Took it unnecessarily.”
While there has been no confirmation about why David Kassick tried to flee when Lisa Mearkle approached him, investigators recovered a syringe next to his body and speculation about unspecified drugs being in his body at the time of the incident have been rife ever since.
After the jury acquitted Mearkle, she told reporters she was relieved at the decision.
“I feel relief right now, but it’s going to take a little bit for me to get back to my normal self. This has taken a toll on me that nobody understands.”
The Hummelstown Police Department has expressed its relief at her acquittal and expects Lisa Mearkle to resume her duties with immediate effect.
[Photo via YouTube]