OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Michael Tabman has nearly three decades of experience as a police officer and as an FBI agent, and he’s studied untold numbers of officer-involved shootings.
So FOX4 asked Tabman to review newly released surveillance camera video of a deadly encounter between a Pettis County deputy and 25-year-old Hannah Fizer.
The June traffic stop in Sedalia left Fizer’s heartbroken friends and family with many unanswerable questions. In September, a special prosecutor cleared the deputy of any wrongdoing in the shooting of Fizer.
The grainy, black and white video doesn’t have any audio, but based on decades of experience, Tabman spotted several troubling signs leading up to the moment the deputy fired his weapon.
“Something spooked him at this moment, that he’s changing his position, he’s trying to get a better view inside the car,” Tabman noted at around the 3-minute mark in the 14-minute video. “Something has put him in a position where he’s in fear of his safety.”
The deputy claimed Fizer said she had a gun and appeared to reach for something with her right hand. Fizer did not have a weapon, but in the heat of the moment, Tabman points out the deputy has no way of knowing that.
Those factors, Tabman explained, capped off a series of actions that transpired in the brief encounter that, taken as a whole, can escalate a police encounter.
“So the first is not cooperating, then a person makes a threatening remark or something that could be perceived as a threatening remark like, ‘I have a gun.’ It doesn’t mean they’re going to shoot you, but it’s certainly a threatening remark. That raises the level of caution on the officer’s side.”
Tabman said from what he can see from the video, there isn’t any overwhelming evidence that the officer’s shooting was not justified.
“Just based on this, I wouldn’t say the officer was or was not justified,” Tabman said. “But I would just say this is not sufficient evidence to show that the officer was not justified. You cannot make a determination from that tape.”