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A Pennsylvania police officer who shot an unarmed man she stopped over an expired inspection sticker was charged with criminal homicide on Tuesday, the Washington Post reports.

Lisa Mearkle, 36, shot 59-year-old David Kassick twice in the back as he lay on the ground. During the February traffic stop, Kassick attempted to run away before Mearkle stunned him with a Taser in her left hand. With a gun in her right hand, Mearkle shot Kassick dead.

On Tuesday, Dauphin District Attorney Ed Marsico said that the deadly force wasn’t justified. Her lawyer, however, disagrees.

The Washington Post reports:

Mearkle’s attorney Brian Perry argued the officer acted in self-defense. “She felt like she had to do what she did,” Perry told the Associated Press. “This person was being commanded, begged, ‘show me your hands,’ and he kept going to his waist.”

“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 criminal complaint. “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.”

A video recorded on Mearkle’s Taser led to the homicide charge. Shortly after the announcement, Kassick’s family responded to the decision.

Kassick’s family lawyers called the charge “a substantial step toward closure.” “Mr. Kassick is now dead as a result of a traffic stop, a routine traffic stop,” family attorney Christopher Slusser said. “He should not be dead.”

Investigators say Kassick was not aggressive towards Mearkle during the encounter. No weapon was found on the scene. According to Perry, the incident was the first time that Mearkle, a 15-year veteran of the Hummelstown Police Department, fired her weapon.



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Pennsylvania Cop Charged With Homicide After Shooting Unarmed Motorist  was originally published on