Sedalia, MO — Last June, family and friends of Hannah Fizer, 25, were shocked to learn that their beloved daughter and friend had been killed during a stop over an alleged speeding violation. Then, four months later, they learned there would be no justice and the officer who killed the unarmed woman as she sat in her vehicle — was back on the job.
Now, Fizer’s father, John Fizer, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Pettis County this week seeking damages against Pettis County Deputy Jordan Schutte. The lawsuit argues the shooting was an unjustified, an excessive use of force and that Schutte did not follow several standard law enforcement protocols during the stop. When watching the video, it is entirely clear.
In October, the Pettis County prosecutor claimed that the officer shooting an unarmed woman during a traffic stop — dumping five rounds into her as she sat in her car — did not violate any policies. The officer "feared for his life."
“Schutte had the ability and responsibility to prevent the use of deadly force against Ms. Fizer but failed to do so,” the lawsuit reads. “His actions contributed to Ms. Fizer’s avoidable death.”
On that fateful night on June 13, Fizer was on her way to work when she was targeted for extortion by the deputy. Just six minutes after the stop began, Fizer would have five bullet holes in her, still sitting in her car.
After killing Fizer, the deputy would claim the woman — who never made a violent threat in her life — had a gun and threatened to kill him. However, investigators found no such gun and it appears the only thing she was holding was her cellphone after letting the officer know that she was filming the stop.
Fizer's family disputes the claims of their daughter threatening to shoot the deputy and their dispute is held up by the fact that Fizer was unarmed. Another ominous detail to the killing of Fizer was the fact that she was filming the stop and her phone was found on the floorboard of her Hyundai, according to a search warrant, but no video has ever been released.
Several months after her death, surveillance footage from a nearby business was released, showing the deputy attempt to open her car door before positioning himself in front of her car and dumping 5 rounds into her. Had he really believed she had a gun, he would have likely taken cover or moved out of the way. Instead, he stayed standing straight up and calmly began shooting into Fizer's car.
The attorney's for the family agree, noting in the lawsuit that Schutte drew his firearm and fired repeated shots at Hannah Fizer at point blank range without first moving or attempting to move to a position of better safety or cover while giving her commands or calling for support and backup.
“There is no objectively reasonable basis on which to conclude it was acceptable, lawful, and not excessive for Schutte to purposefully position himself toward the front of Hannah Fizer’s vehicle and discharge his firearm at her only minutes into a traffic stop without ever attempting to move to a place of greater safety or follow de-escalation techniques,” the lawsuit states.
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Fizer's father believes Fizer was simply holding her cell phone and dropped it, which caused the coward cop to dump five rounds into his daughter. As the cellphone was the only thing found in the car, this is the most likely scenario.
In his statement after the shooting, Schutte claimed Fizer refused to identify herself and that, because she refused to, he told her to step out of the car because he was going to arrest her for not identifying herself.
However, as FOX 4 pointed out, at the time of the incident, nowhere in the record of the radio traffic did Schutte report to radio dispatch that he was going to arrest her for refusing to identify herself. Instead, he can be heard on the radio telling dispatch she was more worried about recording him than giving him her identification.
Furthermore, the radio traffic reveals Hannah Fizer did in fact identify herself, as she can be heard on the audio recording clearly saying her name, “Hannah Fizer,” at a volume the Pettis County deputy would have been able to hear.
Despite prosecutors admitting the shooting was "avoidable" they cleared Schutte in Fizer's death.
Special prosecutor Sephen P. Sokoloff wrote in his conclusion that “the shooting, albeit possibly avoidable, was justifiable under current Missouri criminal law” after claiming surveillance footage from the restaurant showed Fizer reach down to the floorboard. Apparently, reaching down is a crime punishable by summary execution on the spot.
“The evidence indicates that the deceased, who had been stopped for multiple traffic violations and who had refused to provide any information to the officer, had advised him that she was recording him, and then shortly thereafter, that she had a gun and was going to shoot him,” Sokoloff wrote in his statement. “At the time the officer discharged his weapon, she had reached down into the floorboard of the car and raised up towards him. Based on the information and circumstances available to the officer during the event, 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.”
This statement rings hollow given the facts of the case, and the new sheriff as well as the old have expressed their concerns over Fizer's death. As of Dec. 31, 2020, Shutte is no longer employed by the department.
Adding to the tragic nature of this summary execution over a speeding allegation is the fact that Fizer actually attended the Sedalia Police Department's academy in 2016, according to the NY Times. So she was well trained in how to handle a stop, likely the reason she began filming in the first place. According to friends and family, after attending the academy, she quickly decided that she did not want to be a cop, but would often talk about becoming a parole officer to help people get back on their feet.
Before Fizer left for work that evening, the Times reports that she had spent the last day of her life splashing around in a kiddie pool with her best friend, Taylor Browder, and Browder’s young children, talking about life and her future in Sedalia — a future, thanks to an unidentified deputy, that no longer exists....