Was police officer Lisa Mearkle acting in self-defense or did she just overreact?
Pennsylvania VFW police service awardee Mearkle faces criminal homicide charges for shooting 59-year-old David Kassick twice in the back on February 2 without legal justification. The victim was facing down on the ground, incapacitated and unarmed.
Reports say that Mearkle had attempted to pull over Kassick for expired inspection and emissions stickers. Kassick sped away and led a chase to his sister’s home. Mearkle stunned Kassick as he ran and shot him dead.
The 36-year-old Mearkle told investigators that she shot the victim because he would not show her his hands.
Defense attorney Brian Perry cried foul on the charges.
"She felt like she had to do what she did," Perry said. "This person was being commanded, begged, 'show me your hands,' and he kept going to his waist."
According to district attorney Ed Marsico, the strongest evidence against Mearkle is the video from the stun gun the officer was carrying.
“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,” according to the arrest affidavit. “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.”
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Investigators did not find a weapon on Kassick nor did they find any evidence pointing to a threat on Mearkle’s life during the shooting.
Hummelstown chief Charles Dowell has not yet commented on Mearkle’s case. The police department released a statement saying it had cooperated fully and called the case “an extremely difficult case for all involved”.
“We are servants of justice and must now allow the judicial process to conduct a fair and impartial review of the allegations that have been presented,” the news release stated.
Mearkle faces serious charges under the offense of criminal homicide including misdemeanor, involuntary manslaughter and first-degree murder.