A killing in a small town by the Police and the question of justice for Hannah Fizer.
I have never lived in Sedalia, Missouri, and do not have any family there. However, I have written articles that included Hannah Fizer’s death. I have, as a Journalist, written about unarmed people killed by the Police. All of them give me a feeling of emptiness and despair and a need for reform of the justice system.
The death of George Floyd, Elijah McClain, Daniel Prude, and Breonna Taylor all were unarmed when they were killed by the Police. There will always be a question of racism and the need for social reform that surrounds their death by the Police.
Breoona Taylor, was an unarmed Black woman killed by the Police in 2020 and her death reveals that though less than Black men Black women are equally killed by the Police.
Breoona Taylor she was suspected of being with a man that had a no-knock warrant pending for him on the night she was killed.
The Nation knows their names George Floyd and Breoona Taylor, and their deaths have caused a movement worldwide.
But Hannah Fizer was different; she did not fit what we would believe could cause her to be enough of a threat that would result in her death by excessive force.
She lived in rural America, the Midwest, where most people know your name and where you live. Unlike Breoona Taylor, Hannah was not a part of a drug raid; she was not with a wanted man. She had no history of mental illness or violent crimes, and she was unarmed.All of these profiles are statistically the reason women are killed by Police.
Most of the shock and anger about her death appeared in the local news and later by the media in Kansas City. MO.
Her story soon found its way to the national media. The Washington Post, Associated Press news and
The New York Times covered the killing of Hannah Fizer on August 10, 2020.
But most of the outcry has been from the Family and friends of Hannah Fizer in her home town. They rallied to demand the questions about who and why anyone connected to the Sheriff’s office in Sedalia, Missouri, killed Hannah? Nationally all of the media continued to question her death based on the situation of a simple traffic stop?
People in America want to know why would any normal officer be able to justify the evidence of no gun in her car and firing at less than three feet five times into her car?
Hannah Fizer’s death is a example of the many killed by the Police on impulse and justified by the idea that many officers feel they have the right to decide who they want to kill. And that they are protected because they are the Police. In 2020 people throughout America have begun to question this value by Police departments . The Death of Hannah Fizer reveals this is not just a issue of race or region but one of Policing in America.
The people of Sedalia, Missouri and her family for month’s have been looking for answers to why she was killed unarmed and now the nation and the world is also asking for answers .
THE HISTORY OF DEATH FOR WOMEN BY THE POLICE SINCE 2015.
Since 2015 there have been 250 women shot fatally by the Police. Only twenty-six were unarmed when killed by the Police. Generally, the Police have killed an average of 900 people each year since 2015. The FBI data reports that women only account for a fourth of all U.S. crimes. White women make up only 1.5 percent killed by Police compared 33.7for White men. These numbers bring into question the rarity of how someone like Hannah Fizer would be killed unarmed in her car.The FBI reports that women are less likely armed, and most Police view them as less of a threat than men.
The region is also a difference-maker to determine the factor for a violent confrontation with the Police. Officers in rural areas are generally less often in conflicts than in urban cites.
Like men, the most significant number of women killed by the Police, the majority are armed.Women were armed 44% with a gun, 6% with a toy or imitation firearm, 39% with the other weapon, and 11% were unarmed. The largest group of women that have been killed by the Police were in a home. And a part of a warrant search for a man.
31% of the 247 women who died during this period were reported in a mental health crisis. Historically women with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed by the Police.
The region Sedalia, Missouri is generally well below the state average of 28.9 violent crimes ( murder and non negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.) Pettis county is at 12.3, well below the state average. Generally, Policing becomes more aggressive when a community faces increased criminal violence.Since 2015 until the death of Hannah Fizer there has been only two cases of a unarmed women in Missouri killed by the Police.
Katlyn Alix, January 2019 a 24-year-old St.Louis Police officer. She died off duty while playing “Russian Roulette” with an on-duty officer Nathaniel Hendren. It was later learned that he was having a romantic affair with Alix, and on the night, she and his partner met at his apartment and were drinking. As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, Hendren will serve seven years in prison for manslaughter, as well a three-year sentence for armed criminal action.
Prosecutor, Kimberly Gardner, was unhappy with the Police claims of an accident, and she demanded tests for drugs and alcohol for all in the case. Still, the Police resisted and prevented the blood test results from reaching her.Katlyn Alix’s family failed to receive compensation in the Civil suit against the St.Louis Police Department, and Katlyn was another unarmed shooting victim.
Why the Police are not charged in cases of unarmed shooting victims.
During the decade from 2005–2015, more than five thousand Americans were killed by the Police. Fifty-four were charged and acquitted or cleared.
In cases where the officer was charged, there were four factors involved: The person was unarmed, there was some form of video evidence, a witness, and a known attempt for a cover-up.
The Washington Post reported in a report done in 2015 that nineteen of these cases had two of these factors, leading to a Prosecution. Prosecutors interviewed for the Post reports contended that they must have evidence to prove the suspect was never a threat to the officer. The testimony by other officers or credible witnesses adds to the Prosecutors view of substantial evidence.
Even in cases when the victim was shot in the back running, and unarmed jurors have still acquitted Police. This was despite a 1985 Supreme Court ruling that this is not justifiable. From 2005 to 2015, 54 officers were charged with fatal shootings, 35 cases were resolved 21 were acquitted or not charged. The Prosecutors know that Grand Jurors and courtroom jurors tend to bias that an officer is justified in his actions and is a part of the law. Jurors and Judges rarely ask themselves “a question would a reasonable officer have acted as the accused officer?
In 2017 in Minneapolis, MN. Justine Ruszczyk Damond was shot and killed after making a 911 call about a disturbance next to her home. She appeared at the police car; within moments, an officer on the passager side reached for his gun. But he was unable to pull it out, but the driver, his partner, was and fired.
He killed Justine Ruszczyk Damond and was convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter but acquitted of intentional second-degree murder. He claimed that he feared for his partners’ life. Mohamed Noor was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison, and the city of Minneapolis paid $US20 million for a settlement.
However, in 2016 Philando Castile was shot in a traffic stop after informing the officer he had a gun in his car. Castile never handled his weapon but was shot seven times with his partner and daughter in the car.
The shootings occurred in the same county, with the same District Attorney’s office managing the case.Officer Jeronimo Yanez was charged with second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous use of a firearm. Still, he was acquitted of all charges then fired by the City of Saint Anthony. But a wrongful death suit was won as of $3.8 million by Castile’s family.
In both cases, the Prosecutor charged the Police officer, and the victims were unarmed. Still, the difference was that Philando Castile was live-streamed on Facebook. Nonetheless,in Justine Ruszczyk Damond, case the officers, had their bodycam turned off. These inconsistencies is the dilemma of charging Police officers even killing an unarmed person, which can “blindside” a Prosecutor when Prosecuting the Police.
The evidence provided to the jury, and their attitude toward the Police makes the difference. The race is also a component Philando Castile was a black man shot by a white Latino, Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a white woman killed by a black Somalia. The Prosecutor’s main job is to convict the person charged if there is evidence of a crime. Even a Special Prosecutor takes on a case and has no history of connection to local Police the issue can be problematic. The Prosecutor also has a responsibility to the public to reveal Police misconduct and that officers can be charged with crimes. A jury has the right to determine guilt based on the evidence, even without a predictable verdict.
Generally, convicting an officer of a crime using excessive force must be unreasonable for the circumstances. The officer must be seen as making a judgment that no officer would typically make. But this does not always take into account his training and history of managing excessive force cases. In Hannah Fizer’s death, the Deputy took only three minutes before firing five times without any known effort to de-escalate. The Police are trained by two schools of thought regarding how to manage excessive force and de-escalation cases.
Why the Warrior-mindset vs. the Guardian-mindset and excessive force in America is a problem in America.
Between 2013 and 2021, the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office (MO) killed 3 people.
The Warrior trained mindset officer views all encounters as a threat, potentially takes aggressive conduct, and demands respect without questioning their authority or demands.
The officer that killed Philando Castille attended warrior training through the Police Union in Minneapolis, Mn. It was later banned by the Mayor for the city Police officers.
The Warrior training is restrictive and requires tenacity and soldier-like actions in the face of life-threatening struggle. The Warrior mindset toward civilians is that they are expected to be respectful. Doing what they are told, any failure to comply is a confirmation of you as an enemy.
1,127 people were killed by police in 2020.96% were killed by police shootings. Tasers, physical force, and police vehicles accounted for most other deaths.Officers were charged with a crime in only 15 of these cases. One percent of all killings by police.
Like the Warrior, the Guardian seeks to protect the community and, when needed, will use deadly force. Still, the thinking is directed to provide service. The Guardian sees his mission like his fellow first responders, except for a part of his job is to crime-fighting. And making sure the laws are followed for safety reasons. The Guardian officer is taught tactical restraint and to avoid risks when they can. As in Hannah Fizer’s shooting, the Deputy had the option to back off and wait for support by the State Police or other Deputies.
But he did not; why?
The actions are dictated by the training and the judgment of what fits the officer’s comfort zone of how he views himself. Does he see himself as a Warrior, or is he a Guardian and is waiting for other officers’ support an option to de-escalate the situation. Or is it a armed gun battle with a possible suspect who has no hostage or is not a known violent criminal worth a deadly force encounter. Generally, a national study of Police training reports that 58 hours is for firearms, 49 hours for Defensive tactics (hand to hand ). But only 8 hours for both crisis intervention and de-escalation.
The Warrior mindset trains recruit the world is hostile and geared to kill them. Fear becomes a mindset to survive at the end of each shift to go home even if someone is killed.
The danger with this is a core belief that a badge is a open door to brutality. And that no one has the right to question officers, even their superiors, judges, prosecutors, and the public. This allows some officers to conclude that the “blue wall” of Police will protect them with the code of silence to ensure that their actions will never make them see charges. In some cases, the Attorney General can install a Special Prosecutor if the local District Attorney is needed to recuse from the case. Or there is a ruling that unarmed victims who are killed by Police must have a Special Prosecutor.
There is a new wave of “reformer Prosecutors” that believe in examining the Police’s actions and are willing to Prosecute them even when there is not overwhelming evidence. Like bodycam, dashcam or Police, and public witnesses.
They are willing to charge officers based on their intent and the use of their training and if there is a pathology of past excessive force The reformer Prosecutors expect officers to be professional and think and adjust in a potential excessive force case.
In Missouri, the law sets the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” for police shootings. This means that an officer can be held accountable for his actions based on how other officers have responded.
As an example, a routine traffic stop should never end with an unarmed shooting victim.
The three-minute solution to a deadly force shooting of Hannah Fizer 9:50 June 13, 2020.
Hannah Fizer’s death was a shock to the community. The first moments of the shooting were caught on video by a restaurant in Sedalia, MO. The video was not a part of a dashcam or bodycam. The local media made the shooting a powerful news story.
The Kansas City Star and other news outlets covered Hannah Fizer’s death as a national story. Her family, friends, and the people of Sedalia protested her death.The Pettis County Sheriff claimed the lack of a gun was only needed to be able to determine whether this was a justifiable use of force.”
The incumbent Sheriff,was defeated for reelection and Replaced by the new Sheriff Brad Anders. Sheriff Brad Anders reported he was motivated to run for Sheriff because of handling the Hannah Fizer case. The incumbent never provided the name of the Deputy who killed Hannah Fizer. He also failed to reveal if there was a history of using excessive force.
The incumbent Sheriff told the media that a verbal threat was not enough for the use of deadly force. Still, he would have one of his Captains examine the Sheriff’s Office’s policies and procedures. The incumbent Sheriff following the Special Prosecutors report, determined that the Deputy did not violate any Policies.
The Special Prosecutor Stephen Sokoloff:stated that under Missouri law, when an officer uses deadly force in self-defense, the legal standard requires a reasonable belief that the officer is in imminent danger.
Sokoloff said. “The reasonableness of the officer’s belief must be evaluated based on how circumstances reasonably appeared to the officer at the time. Not based on how those circumstances may have later been discovered actually to have been.The Special Prosecutor believes that training in the future would prevent deaths of this kind.
The Missouri State Police, on June 18, noted in their reports that the Deputy became emotional multiple times during his interview. He claimed that she refused to open her car door or roll down her window.
He also told the State Police he did not know how many shots were fired and did not hear the gunshots.
The timeline of the death of Hannah Fizer and the questions that remain.
The decision to charge the Deputy simply existed on if the Special Prosecutor could develop evidence that he felt could cause a Jury to convict the Deputy of a crime. This is a traditional belief in the prosecution of the Police. The shooting element was that Hannah was on her way to work when she was pulled over at 9:50 pm at the 3500 blocks on West Broadway. The reason for the stop was for speeding and careless driving.
The two restaurants CCTV recorded the events as the following: Beginning at 9:59, after her car stopped, the Deputy approached her driver’s side and began a conversation with Hannah. He attempted to open her car door. At 10:02, the video revealed the Deputy with his gun drawn and positioning himself between her windshield and the driver’s door. At 10:03, he fires five shots and holds that position until 10:06, and the State Police arrive.The State Police officer examines her car while the Deputy walks in a circle three times. By 10:11, the State Police, along with Medical support, removed the body of Hannah Fizer.
The Deputy told the Missouri state Police he did “what any reasonable officer would have done. “He was questioned but was he reasonable?
It has been more than six months since Hannah Fizer’s death on June 16, but there are still more questions.
The Deputy took only three minutes to conclude that he needed to use “deadly force” to protect his life. Still, he could have moved back to his car without her revealing a weapon. In his interview with the Missouri State Police, he claimed that she said she would record him on her phone.
The phone was examined, and there was no video of the Deputy.The CCTV video revealed that he put himself in the fire line within one minute as he claimed she was moving in the car.
Why was there no request for backup? Who was the Deputy protecting from Hannah Fizer? She did not have a hostage; she was not stopped committing a violent crime or threatening others; her car was parked.
The Deputy never revealed why Hannah Fizer was never given the option to leave her car before he fired as a way to de-escalate the confrontation.This Deputy made the decision to kill Hannah Fizer; he placed a value on her life. The Warrior mindset told him he was doing “what any reasonable officer would have done. “
The options for justice by the Department of justice.
On March 13, 2020, Breoona Taylor was killed by a Police No-Knock warrant raid at her home. Her death is currently being investigated by the FBI.
The FBI is investigating the actions of the Officers of Louisville, KY. Police Department. The officers have been all fired, and one was charged on a different case. The city of Louisville has settled litigation for 12 million dollars for her family.
The people of Louisville and her family still want the Police officers charged in her death.
Hannah Fizer was killed unarmed by a Sheriff who has only his claim that she refused to cooperate and that she claimed she had a gun and would shoot him. But there was no gun, and no one in her family or who knew her believes that was true. But why, with a new Sheriff, has the FBI not been requested to investigate.
Hannah Fizer’s death has questions of where litigation may reveal she was wrongfully killed by a poorly trained Deputy Sheriff who should never have a badge.The people of Sedalia, MO, and her family have kept her memory alive. They have connected on social media, discussed her life, and kept questioning her death and demanding justice.
America is a nation that is facing social change in the manner of Policing. Many have even called for “de-funding the Police, which is problematic. The death of Hannah Fizer reveals more than any other excessive force death. It shows the flaws in the decision making to charge officers is based only on the subjective view of evidence.
“Is there enough evidence to convince a jury to convict an officer”? But often fails to allow the Jury or Grand Jury to make the decision based on the evidence. Her case points out that excessive force is not only based on racial bias. Police bias can develop every time you communicate with them, even if you are a woman.
Her death could have been prevented if the Warrior mindset was replaced with the Guardian mindset. The Guardian method would have used de-escalation as a way to work with Hannah Fizer. Her life would have been valued, and the use of excessive force de-escalated.
But to her family and friends, this answer is far too late to save Hannah, and it cannot take away their pain of losing a Daughter, love, and friend. The people of Sedalia have been violated by her death, and they must have Justice for Hannah. But the people of America are also demanding answers for social injustice and Police reform even it is not directed at their race or community.
Justice is what we all live by and require the Police and our Justice system to provide fairness even if we make a mistake when we communicate with them. Death should not be the answer unless our intent is to harm others, or we are a real threat.Hannah Fizer was never a threat to anyone in her life she was a victim .
The Deputy Sheriff who took Hannah’s life must be revealed, and his career must be open for all to examine and removed or tried in a court of law . A new Sheriff and his office should provide this clarity because there will be no Justice for Hannah until this happens the world will keep asking for Justice for Hannah.