Police Abuse

Pennsylvania Cop Charged With Homicide in Incident That Started Over Emissions Sticker

It's time to limit lawful interactions between police and residents.



Any interaction with a police officer can end in death, so it's important to carefully consider in what situations society wants (via the laws popular governments pass) police interacting with residents. This is one of the primary libertarian critiques of systemic police violence. Eric Garner was killed by police after resisting arrest over allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. His wasn't the only questionable death at the hands of police last year.

Justice after the fact can be difficult to secure. As Radley Balko noted last week, the laws often protect police officers even in situations involving unnecessary force. So the questions of when a police officer can engage a resident, and when they can pursue a resident who decides to flee, become questions of life or death.

Lisa Mearkle, an officer from Hummelstown Borough, Pennsylvania, pulled David Kassick over on a public road—that government property where the majority of police-resident interactions happen—because the emissions sticker was expired. Kassick fled with Mearkle pursuing him to a relative's home. Kassick got out of the car and Mearkle followed on foot, eventually shooting him with her stun gun, which engaged the body cam. Then, via CNN:

[Dauphin County District Attorney Ed] Marisco described the video:

"She's running, she's tasing him, he falls to the ground. He's sort of writhing around on the ground a little bit," Marisco said.

Standing several feet behind his prone body, Mearkle shouts for Kassick to show his hands.

Despite the commands, Marisco said there were multiple points in the videos where Kassick is seen reaching beneath himself, his hands obscured to Mearkle.

Holding the taser in her left hand, court documents said, Mearkle drew her gun in her right hand and, while continuing to shout "show me your hands," fired twice into Kassick's back.

Kassick was pronounced dead at the scene. He was unarmed.

Mearkle was released on $250,000 bail and is being monitored electronically. The police department suspended her without pay.

NEXT: Bowe Bergdahl Charged with Desertion, Zayn Malik Quits One Direction, ISIS Conquers Tataouine: P.M. Links

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Even odds she walks.

    And then sues for back pay and permanent full disability pension, because of the trauma she suffered.

    1. Ordinarily, I would agree with you. But, this sentence makes me think this one might be different. “Mearkle fired her stun gun, automatically engaging a built-in audio and visual recording device“.

      1. Amazing, isn’t it, that there is no camera running for the relevant part of a tasering: whether the use of the taser itself was justified.

        Starting the camera when you taser the guy is just making authority boner porn:

        “IN THE FAAAACE!”

    2. very likely. its still a victory that she got charged. thats how broken the system is.

    3. I make up to usd90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to usd86h Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link……… Try it, you won’t regret it!… http://www.wixjob.com

  2. Shooting in unarmed, prone man in the back as he is being tased while laying face down on the ground?

    This woman sounds very much like a murderer. If little Lisa had arrested a man who did the same thing, she would likely describe it as execution style.

    3 cheers for an actual criminal charge being brought without the usual DA game playing bullshit.

    1. I don’t know. Given this:

      Standing several feet behind his prone body, Mearkle shouts for Kassick to show his hands.

      Despite the commands, Marisco said there were multiple points in the videos where Kassick is seen reaching beneath himself, his hands obscured to Mearkle.

      It sounds like the DA is trying to make the officer’s defense for her already.

      1. ^This^

      2. How easy is it to “show your hands” after you’ve been fucking tased?

        1. d’oh!

        2. Suspect was swinging his arms in a threatening manner and emitting a possibly noxious foam from his mouth. Good shoot.

      3. How often have non-costumed people used; “I saw him reach for something” as a valid excuse for why they just killed someone on the street?

        1. Probably more often than you think.

        2. they always say its “hands at the waistband”. the last thing you would do if unarmed. Fib much?

    2. I don’t think the DA could play games on this one. Because, “…automatically engaging a built-in audio and visual recording device” Since the device automatically starts recording, they couldn’t deny there was video.

  3. I hope she’s getting counseling for having had to endure that situation. Thank God she was able to go home safe that night.

    God speed, officer.

    1. Preferably into a bridge abutment, you murderous bitch.

      The government stooge, not Almanian!.

  4. I’m guessing she’s not well liked in law enforcement circles there.

    1. I’m curious, do the standard cop forums automatically declare a shooting like this righteous, as they do with any cop shooting? Or do they blame her, because she’s a her? I’d be interested to see how the thin blue line of misogyny works.

      1. I’m guessing it is much easier to abandon a she than a he.

  5. They were right. Those greenhouse gases will get us all killed.

  6. One for the Angry White Brigade (do I need to send royalties to Bo for that?): Would she have been suspended without pay if she were not a she?

    1. Depends on whether or not David Kassick is black.

      1. I forgot intersectionality.

  7. Unfortunately, 90% of the population respond to these types of things with 1) they shouldn’t have broke the law in the firt place (regardless of how messed up the law is and 2) they should have complied so its their own fault (regardless of how egregious the cops behavior). No comprehension as to how this snowballs. No compassion. Bootlickers all.

    1. 2) they should have complied so its their own fault (regardless of how egregious the cops behavior).

      Let alone the simple difficulty of complying with “keep your hands in plain sight” while voltage is being applied.

    2. But kiwi polish is so TASTY!

    3. AJB, an excellent and all too rare analysis of situations like this.

      Some call them sheeple. And they are a danger to the rest of us.

  8. The only reason they even charged this cop is because she was a woman and the dead man was white.

    Had she been a he and had the victim been black, well my friends, u know the script:

    1. Cop goes on vacation for months (paid admin leave is what they call it).
    2. A bunch of other Cops perform this fake investigation and find the death justifiable.
    3. The Black Family calls Al Sharpton.
    4. The White Population of America villianizes the victim.
    5. The Blacks villianize the cops.
    6. Under the rather unlikely event that there is a Grand Jury or (ha ha ha) a trial, the Local District Attorney will Represent the police officers in Court.
    7. The cop will waive his right to a trial by Jury.
    8. Another Cop (called a Judge) will find him not guilty.
    9. The Victim’s family will take the Town to Court and get Millions.
    10. and the band plays on.

    Sound familiar ?????

  9. Two items with triggers. Adrenaline. Loss of fine motor skills.

    Gross negligence at best.

    1. One problem: Two shots, seconds apart. That defense might hold for one shot, but not a second deliberate shot. What is interesting is the officer susposedly held the taser cam on the guy thinking this would work in her defense.

  10. She should be charged with murder because that is exactly what it was. She shot him in the BACK for an expired emissions sticker after being tazered because he wouldn’t show her his hands? So if he had his back to her and his hands were UNDERNEATH him, what exactly was the threat that required the use of deadly force? There was none and she should spend the rest of her life in prison. She flat out murdered the guy and it was a cold, premeditated murder because he was in no stretch of the imagination a threat to her.

  11. An unnecessary tragedy to be sure. Some day maybe it’ll dawn on these cops that people are notoriously unable to follow further instructions while you’re pumping 50KV into them. What on earth made this cop decide to shoot somebody writhing on the ground – twice?

    Now, that having been said, Mr. Kassick could have seen the lights in his mirror and pulled over like a normal person. He decided to turn a traffic ticket into a chase. Take off like a felon and that’s how the rest of the encounter is going to go down. Dumbass citizen + dumbass cop = tragedy.

    1. The guy was on probation for a prior DUI. My guess is he probably didn’t have a valid DL and decided it would be a good idea to run for it.

  12. An expired emissions sticker? He’s dead and she’ll spend the rest of her life thinking about killing him over a fu*king expired emissions sticker!?! Why aren’t these cops trained better? Kind of like this: you pull a guy over for some non-violent, non-moving violation. As you approach the car the guy leaps out and takes off on foot. Stay with the vehicle. Call for backup. Keep an eye on where this newly minted Dr. Richard Kimball is headed. Do not pursue. Check the registration of the vehicle. Dispatch someone to the owners residence. Trust me, this knucklehead will turn up, sooner rather than later. No one will be dead.

    1. Don’t just focus on the cop’s decision making. He ran from the traffic stop over an emissions sticker, too. Dollars to donuts he had an outstanding warrant or evidence of a crime in the car.

      1. Which “crime” did he commit that called for the death penalty?

      2. Oh yes, rank speculation that he’s guilty of some other crime makes tasering and killing him totally justified. Good catch.

      3. According to her attorney, his brother showed up during the altercation and started yelling at the cop. Doesn’t necessarily justify the shooting, but this family doesn’t seem to have much in the way of police interaction skills. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.


  13. Any interaction with a police officer can end in death, so it’s important to carefully consider in what situations society wants (via the laws popular governments pass) police interacting with residents.

    Any interaction with an automobile can end in death, too. In fact you’re far more likely to survive an interaction with a cop than survive an automobile trip.

  14. Killed over an emissions sticker…wow.

    Also, even amongst villains, the code is ‘you do not shoot a man in the back’. This pig literally proved herself less trustworthy and upstanding than a common criminal (well common criminal who abides by that code)

    I don’t care how much he is rustling around below himself you don’t shoot a person in the back.

    1. ‘you do not shoot a man in the back’

      According to what.. the old western movie you saw once?
      Suppose you had good reason to believe [definitely not the case in this specific incident!] that a suspect that is face down is going for a weapon; are you seriously suggesting that the proper thing to do is wait till the suspect rolls over and aims?
      Or, a situation where the bad guy is holding someone at gunpoint: the intelligent thing to do is to move around so as to come up from behind them. Disarm if possible, shoot if necessary.
      Defense of self or others is not an Olympic sport. They don’t give out points for degree of difficulty and you don’t owe the bad guy a “fair fight”.

  15. say it aint so

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.