SEDALIA, Mo. — A special prosecutor has been assigned to the case of a Pettis County deputy shooting and killing a Sedalia woman.
Hannah Fizer was shot during a traffic stop June 13. The Missouri State Highway Patrol handled the investigation.
The agency initially said the 25-year-old woman refused to identify herself, was armed and verbally threatened to shoot the deputy. The incident escalated, and the deputy shot Fizer. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
But Fizer’s family and friends have questioned the account, arguing she would never threatened someone, and investigators never found a gun.
According to Pettis County Sherrif Kevin Bond, just a verbal threat does not justify the use of deadly force.
On July 30, the highway patrol turned its investigation over to the Pettis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
On Tuesday, County Prosecutor Phillip Sawyer said, in order to protect the integrity of the investigation, he requested that the court appoint independent counsel to review the case.
“Pettis County and families of those involved deserve the confidence to know that this matter was handled independently and competently by an individual with no ties to the jurisdiction that I serve,” Sawyer said in a statement.
Stephen Sokoloff, general counsel for the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services, was appointed to the case. He will determine if the deputy’s use of force was justified and if charges should be filed. He will work on the case to its conclusion.
It’s unclear when the Sedalia community will see the next step in this case. Dozens protested for several days after Fizer was shot, calling for accountability from law enforcement.
Body or dash cameras could of helped clear up more on what happened the night Fizer was killed, but the sheriff’s office no longer has the equipment.
According to a search warrant filed in the case, the shooting was caught on camera. According to the deputy, Fizer said she was recording the traffic stop on her cell phone.
Five spent shell casings were recovered from the scene and a cell phone was taken for investigation from the passenger side floor board of Fizer ‘s vehicle, according to court documents.
The cell phone was sent to the state’s digital forensic center in Jefferson City for examination.
The entire incident was also captured on surveillance video from a nearby restaurant’s security camera.
The recording appears to show the deputy making contact with Fizer before drawing a weapon and shooting into her vehicle. Fizer can be seen moving inside the vehicle before the shooting, according to the search warrant.
Her autopsy is being conducted in Columbia, Missouri. The coroner said results won’t be back for months.