Judge considers whether to release video showing officer killing man
A Dauphin County judge will now decide whether to release the video that shows Hummelstown police officer Lisa Mearkle shooting and killing David Kassick. “It’s the cornerstone of the case. There are no other eyewitnesses to what occurred. The video is everything,” said Johnny Baer, who is Chief Deputy District Attorney.
The video was recorded on February 2 by the taser Mearkle used on Kassick. The incident started when Kassick took off during a traffic stop for expired inspection stickers. He drove back to his house in South Hanover Township with Mearkle in pursuit. When he tried to run into the backyard Mearkle chased after him. That’s when she shot Kassick, who was unarmed, in the back.
Mearkle’s lawyer maintains that it was self defense because it looked like Kassick may have been reaching for a weapon. Josh Bonn, an attorney with the Pennsylvania Media Group, spearheaded the effort to get the video released before the trial.
“There is a national dialogue at this time regarding the conduct of of police officers and this video is a contemporaneous reporting of an allegation that a police officer was engaged in misconduct. It’s important that the public can see what exactly happened,” said Bonn.
The judge said releasing the video would be highly unusual. The video would be made public regardless when the case goes to trial, although a trial date has yet to be set. “Obviously it’s unusual circumstances. We don’t typically deal with the request for the release of pre-trial evidence so we’re all in chartered waters here,” said Baer.