SEDALIA, Mo. — The father of a 25-year-old Sedalia woman, shot and killed by a former Pettis County Sheriff’s deputy, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
According to court documents, John Fizer, the father of Hannah Fizer, filed the lawsuit Wednesday for damages against former Pettis County Deputy Jordan Schutte, and for his causes of action in the fatal shooting of Hannah Fizer during a traffic stop on June 13, 2020.
The lawsuit alleges Schutte threatened to smash Hannah Fizer’s window with his baton and attempted to grab her through the driver’s side window and pull her from her vehicle.
Then, with his firearm drawn, the suit alleges Schutte carefully moved toward the front of Hannah Fizer’s vehicle to better position himself to fire at her. The deputy fatally shot the 25-year-old, who was unarmed, five times within minutes of pulling her over. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the lawsuit, 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.
A special prosecutor assigned to the case, however, declined to file charges against the deputy, saying “the shooting, albeit possibly avoidable, was justifiable under current Missouri criminal law.”
According to initial reports, Schutte said Hannah Fizer pulled over and stopped her vehicle in a secluded location. The lawsuit states video evidence demonstrates that she pulled over on a well-traveled road onto a clearly visible area that ran between two operating restaurants in Sedalia.
In his statement to investigators, Schutte claimed that after Hannah Fizer stopped, she did not roll her window down as he walked up to her vehicle. He further claimed he yelled at her to roll her window down, which she did not do. Schutte said Hannah Fizer rolled her window down only after he yelled at her a second time.
But according to the lawsuit, a video recording of the incident shows Hannah Fizer’s driver’s side window was rolled down and/or was being rolled down as Schutte made his initial approach toward her vehicle.
In his statement, Schutte said Hannah 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, 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.
Both the former and newly elected Pettis County Sheriff have each expressed concern over Schutte’s shooting of Hannah Fizer, according to court records.
The lawsuit refers to a June 30, 2020, story from FOX4 in the weeks following Hannah Fizer’s death when then-Pettis County Sheriff Kevin Bond commented on the fact that Hannah Fizer allegedly said, “I am going to shoot you,” to the deputy. Bond told FOX4, “just a verbal threat does not justify the use of deadly force.”
On Nov. 3, 2020, Brad Anders was elected as sheriff of Pettis County in place of Bond.
The court document states Anders decided to enter the race and seek election as Pettis County sheriff in or around late June 2020 after Schutte’s deadly shooting of Hannah Fizer.
Anders released the following statement to FOX4 Thursday:
First, as Pettis County Sheriff I want to extend my condolences to the Fizer family for the loss of their daughter, Hannah. The Pettis County Sheriff’s Office stands ready to assist in any way with providing any relevant information, documents, or other pertinent items regarding this very unfortunate incident.”
Anders said Schutte is no longer employed with the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office as of Dec. 31, 2020.
On Nov. 4, just after winning election, Anders again spoke about Hannah Fizer’s shooting in an interview with FOX4, explaining that he had not planned to seek election until 2024 — “until some current events and recent events that happened, that really concerned me about the circumstances surrounding it.”
The lawsuit says that because of Schutte’s actions, John Fizer has been “forever deprived of Hannah Fizer’s services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, and support, and will continue to be so deprived for the remainder of his natural life.”
John Fizer was forced to spend money for funeral and burial expenses due to Hannah Fizer’s death, and for other expenses that he wasn’t able to specify at the time of filing the lawsuit.
The suit goes on to say that John Fizer “prays for judgment” against Schutte for “actual damages in an amount that is fair, for all damages available, for exemplary and punitive damages which will serve to punish him for his conduct in the past and deter him and others similarly situated from the same or similar conduct in the future, together with any and all costs herein incurred and expended, and for such other and further relief as this court may deem just and proper.”