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Pa. officer found not guilty in shooting death of unarmed man; incident caught on camera

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Posted at 7:15 PM, Nov 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-07 21:15:29-05
By Haimy Assefa

CNN

(CNN) — A jury found a Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, police officer not guilty Thursday in the February shooting death of an unarmed man during a traffic stop.

The shooting of David Kassick, 59, was caught on video and played at Officer Lisa Mearkle’s trial.

WARNING: The footage below contains the moments the officer fatally shot Kassick. Viewer discretion is advised. 

“We’re just glad the jury saw the video for what it was and didn’t second guess,” Mearkle’s attorney Brian Perry said. He described the video as “sensory overload.”

Mearkle had pulled Kassick over February 2 for an expired emissions sticker on his car. Kassick fled, ultimately leading to a foot chase.

Video of the shooting was made public after the conclusion of the trial.

Mearkle initially used a stun gun on him, but she drew her service weapon and fired when he repeatedly appeared to reach beneath himself as he lay on the ground and did not comply with commands to show his hands, the video showed.

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

“This case is a tragedy for all involved,” Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico Jr. said at a news conference Thursday. “A man lost his life — a police officer was here in court this week facing trial over a criminal homicide charge.”

Marsico said it is difficult when a police officer is charged because the defendant typically gets the benefit of the doubt.

“I am relieved that the justice system actually worked,” Mearkle said at a news conference Thursday. “I’m relieved and happy that I’m going to be able to get my life back to normal like it was before.”

She described the past months as going to “hell and back.”

“I’m sorry that this has happened — obviously it’s unfortunate, but I wish it didn’t happen,” said a tearful Mearkle, “And I want them [Kassick’s family] to know that. I never wanted to shoot anybody.”

Mearkle, who was suspended without pay in April, said she plans to go back to the Hummelstown police department to “serve the citizens of my community.”

It is not immediately clear whether the Police Department will reinstate Mearkle. Hummelstown is about 12 miles from Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania.

David Shortell contributed to this report.

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