The fatal shooting of a 25-year-old Missouri woman by a deputy during a traffic stop parked a protest and left her family and friends with questions.
Hannah Fizer was killed at about 10 p.m. on June 13 in Sedalia, a city of 21,700 about 90 miles southeast of Kansas City, by a Pettis County sheriff’s deputy conducting a traffic stop, said a statement by the Missouri Highway Patrol, which is investigating the shooting.
During the stop, she “was not compliant” and “allegedly threatened the deputy by stating she was armed and going to shoot him,” the highway patrol statement said.
“The incident escalated and the deputy discharged his weapon, striking the suspect,” the statement said, adding that officers administered first aid, but Fizer was pronounced dead at the scene.
The deputy, a 13-year veteran of the department whose name hasn’t been released, was not injured and has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard practice in officer-involved shootings, according to Sheriff Kevin Bond. The department has not had any previous complaints against the officer, he said.
Fizer was on her way to work at a convenience story, her family members said, and was the only person in the vehicle when the shooting happened.
Her stepmother, Lori Fizer, said she has never known Hannah Fizer to carry a gun.
On Tuesday, investigators who searched the car driven by Hannah Fizer the night she was fatally shot did not find a weapon, said Sgt. Andy Bell of the state highway patrol.
Bell said there was no available dashboard camera or body camera footage of the shooting.
Hannah Fizer’s father, John Fizer, said Monday that his daughter never carried a gun and he doesn’t believe she became belligerent with the officer. He said he couldn’t imagine what could have occurred to lead the deputy to shoot his daughter and questioned why the deputy didn’t use a stun gun instead.
Linda Grande, a family friend who has known Hannah Fizer since she was 5, told NBC affiliate KOMU in Columbia, Missouri that she needs proof to believe what authorities are saying happened.
“Just to come out and say that ‘oh, I have a gun and I’m going to shoot you,’ that’s not Hannah,” Grande said. “Show some proof that the only last resort was to do what he did, to shoot her. Why did he feel so threatened by a 140-pound little girl who was on her way to work?”
Demonstrators gathered in Sedalia on Thursday to support the family in their efforts to seek answers from law enforcement and demand justice for Hannah Fizer.
“My cousin has been shot dead by an officer, people that taxpayers pay for them to do their jobs. They’re supposed to be properly trained,” Dean Fizer, a cousin who was at the protest, told KOMU.
“She was genuine, she was pure, she was a free spirit,” Dean Fizer said of his deceased cousin. “She was nice, caring; she wasn’t about confrontation.”
Hannah Fizer’s funeral was set for Saturday, two days after Bond issued an open letter to the public, urging community residents to “think rationally and not just with emotion.” He wrote that deputies’ home addresses are being circulated online and that one deputy and his child have been threatened.
In the letter, Bond described Hannah Fizer’s death as “tragic” but said “the onslaught of shock, commercial media coverage, social media outcry, and raw emotion is beginning to devolve into a dangerous situation for our community.”
The highway patrol said that while the investigation into Fizer’s death is a priority, it could be weeks before enough information is compiled to send to a district attorney, who will determine if anyone will be charged, the Kansas City Star reported.
The sheriff said his department used to have body cameras.
“However, we had technical difficulties with that and funding has not allowed us to provide them for the deputies,” he told KOMU.
Associated Press and Juan Anguiano contributed.