A special prosecutor announced Monday that a Missouri police officer will not be charged for fatally shooting a woman during a traffic stop over the summer.
The unnamed Pettis County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed Hannah Fizer after stopping her car in Sedalia, Mo. The deputy later told investigators that Fizer had been preparing to shoot him, according to special prosecutor Stephen Sokoloff.
Police did not find a gun in the car and her family and friends have said she did not own one, The Associated Press reported.
Under Missouri law, officers must have a reasonable belief of imminent danger before firing their guns. In the Fizer shooting, “it cannot be said that the officer did not have a reasonable belief that he was in danger of serious physical injury or death from the actions of the deceased at the time he fired,” Sokoloff wrote.
“There are aspects of the case that lead me to believe that an alternative approach might have avoided the confrontation that led to the officer having to discharge his weapon,” Sokoloff wrote. But he said that had no bearing on whether he had cause to file charges against the officer.
Fizer’s father, John Fizer, said he was “dumbfounded” by the lack of charges and that his daughter would have done “absolutely nothing” to warrant the use of a gun.
“She probably did run a red light, he probably pulled her over for a good reason,” Fizer said, according to the AP. “His good reason stopped right there. Seconds later she’s dead. I’m just numb. I don’t understand it.”
Pettis County does not provide dash cameras or body cameras to deputies, and video from a restaurant in the area did not include audio.
Sokoloff wrote that regardless of the legal liability, the incident suggested better de-escalation training was necessary.
“The recent spate of these types of avoidable deaths would certainly suggest that a reexamination of training techniques may be in order,” he wrote, according to the AP.