Family seeks answers after deputy kills Missouri woman
LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — The father of a Missouri woman who was killed by a sheriff’s deputy during a traffic stop said Monday that nobody who knew his daughter believes she had a gun or threatened the deputy before he shot her.
Hannah Fizer, 25, was killed Saturday night in Sedalia, a city of 21,700 residents about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of Kansas City.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol, which is investigating the shooting, said Fizer was shot Saturday night after she said she had a gun and threatened to shoot the deputy.
“The suspect allegedly threatened the deputy by stating she was armed and going to shoot him,” the patrol said in a news release. “The incident escalated and the deputy discharged his weapon, striking the suspect.”
Fizer’s father, John Fizer, said Monday that she never carried a gun and he doesn’t believe she became belligerent with the officer. He suspects his daughter had her phone in her hand “because she always had her phone in her hand.”
He said he couldn’t imagine what could have occurred to lead the deputy to shoot his daughter, and he questioned why the deputy didn’t use a Taser, instead.
Hannah Fizer was driving to her job as an assistant manager at a convenience store when she was stopped. She was pulled over because she was ran a red light while speeding and kept going as the deputy tried to stop her, patrol Sgt. Bill Lowe said Monday.
Further details about why the situation escalated have not been released. John Fizer said law enforcement officers haven’t yet discussed the shooting with the family.
Patrol Sgt. Andy Bell said there was no available dashboard camera or body camera footage of the shooting. The county sheriff, Kevin Bond, said his department doesn’t have or use such technology.
The shooting comes amid increased scrutiny of officer-involved killings since the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd was a black man who died after a white police officer pressed a knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he pleaded for air and eventually stopped moving. Both Fizer and the deputy who shot her were white.
Bond said the deputy, who has worked for Pettis County since 2007, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard practice in officer-involved shootings. The department has not had any previous complaints against the officer, he said.
Lowe said it was unclear Monday if Hannah Fizer had a gun because the warrant to search the car was still pending.
Officers administered first aid, but Fizer was pronounced dead at the scene. The deputy was not injured.
Fizer’s boyfriend, James Johnson, told The Kansas City Star that Fizer wasn’t armed when she left their place shortly before driving to work.
John Fizer said his daughter “was not a perfect angel by any means. She liked to drink and smoke a little weed sometimes, but by no means was she violent. She was the kind of person that wouldn’t hesitate to give a homeless person $10.”
Hannah Fizer pleaded guilty in April to possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, a misdemeanor. And she pleaded guilty in March to misdemeanor driving while intoxicated.
John Fizer said that when his daughter was pulled over for the DWI, she immediately told the arresting officer that she knew she was in the wrong and accepted responsibility.
He said Hannah respected law enforcement and at one point considered trying to become a police or parole officer. He said his daughter and the rest of the family believe there are good and bad officers and that some police reforms are needed but they generally support law enforcement and have not participated in recent protests over the death of Floyd and racial inequality.
This story has been corrected to reflect that John Fizer said his daughter never carried a gun, not that she carried one.
Associated Press writer Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri, contributed to this report.