Police officer Lisa J. Mearkle, 36, of Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, is facing criminal homicide charges for shooting an unarmed driver in the back as he lay facedown on the ground.
On Feb. 2, Mearkle attempted to pull over David Kassick, 59, for having expired inspection and emissions stickers, but he sped away. She caught up to him, and he then fled on foot. Mearkle was able to incapicitate Kassick with a stun gun. She then shot him twice in the back, with the gun she was holding in her other hand, while he was on the ground.
Mearkle said she shot Kassick because he wouldn’t show his hands and she believed he was reaching for a gun. Brian Perry, Mearkle’s attorney, said she acted in self-defense. "She felt like she had to do what she did,” he said. "This person was being commanded, begged, 'show me your hands,' and he kept going to his waist."
The stun gun Mearkle used contained a camera, and District Attorney Ed Marsico said it looked like Mearkle tried to remove the stun gun probe from Kassick's 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 reads. "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.”
Kassick had alcohol and unspecified drugs in his system at the time of his death, and a syringe was found near his body.
Christopher Slusser, one of the Kassick family’s attorneys, said: "Mr. Kassick is now dead as a result of a traffic stop, a routine traffic 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."
Mearkle had been on the force for 15 years.