A petition calling for the firing of a Central Pa. police officer recently acquitted of murder has reached 2,700 signatures and growing.
Started by a group calling itself "Hummelstown for Accountability," the petition on Change.org wants Lisa Mearkle, 37, fired from the Hummelstown Police Department. The petition had nearly 3,000 signatures by Monday evening.
Mearkle was acquitted of murder charges last week in the shooting death of Hummelstown local David Kassick, 59, who she shot after Tasing him while he was lying in the snow.
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"We believe that Mearkle's actions in the death of David Kassick were unprofessional, inappropriate, and wrong," the petition states. "Further, we believe that the credibility of the Hummelstown Police Department will be greatly diminished if she returns to work and that the citizens of Hummelstown will live in fear of this police officer."
A centerpiece of the prosecution against Mearkle was a videotape recorded by the Taser she used to bring down Kassick in February.
The jerky video played for the jury in Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas in Harrisburg showed Kassick face down as Mearkle is heard repeatedly shouting "Show your hands!" two gunshots ring out and then a red spot appears on his back.
In the courthouse lobby after the verdict was read, Mearkle told reporters she hoped to return to the police force that suspended her after the shooting.
An employee at the Hummelstown Police Department said no decision had yet been made about Mearkle's employment status and that they had "no idea" what would happen.
"We're in unchartered territory here," the employee said.
The shooting took place after Mearkle attempted to pull over Kassick for an expired vehicle inspection sticker and he fled. Mearkle used her stun gun to bring him down. Mearkle's defense lawyer Brian Perry had told jurors that as Kassick lay in the snow, his left hand appeared to be reaching into his coat, presumably for a gun, and that caused the officer to shoot.
Police later found no weapon on Kassick, who served 10 years in federal prison for a heroin sale that resulted in a death.
"I've been to hell and back," Mearkle said, breaking into tears, after she was acquitted on Thursday.
Kassick's nephew, Kevin Fetter, told reporters that he still considers Mearkle a murderer.
"She feared for her life from a man who was laying on the ground. I think she murdered him in cold blood," Fetter said.
Additional reporting by Reuters
Click here to see unedited video of the incident released by the Dauphin D.A.'s Office. Warning: violent content, may be offensive to some viewers.
Below, the shooting was recently discussed by Bill Maher and Quentin Tarantino on Real Time with Ben Maher. Video of the incident is shown at the 3 minute mark.