Editor's note: This article has been updated to include updated information obtained Monday from the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Sheriff Kevin Bond.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is investigating a Pettis County Sheriff’s Office deputy-involved shooting which left a Sedalia woman dead Saturday night.
According to a Missouri State Highway Patrol news release, at approximately 10 p.m. Saturday a Pettis County deputy conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle near West Broadway Boulevard and Winchester Drive in Sedalia. During the stop, Hannah R. Fizer, 25, of Sedalia, was shot and killed by the deputy after allegedly claiming to have a gun and threatening to shoot the deputy.
“There wasn’t a pursuit but (the vehicle) didn’t readily stop,” Pettis County Sheriff Kevin Bond told the Democrat Sunday morning. “It pulled off into kind of a secluded street there between the Asian Buffet and LeMaire’s.”
According to the release, the preliminary investigation revealed the driver, Fizer, was non-compliant. She allegedly threatened the deputy by stating she was armed and was going to shoot the deputy.
“It escalated into a situation where he had to fire his weapon,” Bond said.
According to the release, the deputy discharged his weapon, striking Fizer and officers at the scene then rendered first aid. Pettis County Coroner Robert “Skip” Smith pronounced Fizer deceased at the scene. There were no other injuries during the incident, according to the release.
According to the MSHP Troop A Twitter account, the initial reason for the stop was speeding and careless and imprudent driving on Thompson Boulevard. The tweet states Fizer ran a traffic light at Broadway and Thompson, then kept traveling as the deputy attempted to stop the vehicle. Fizer eventually pulled off the road near LeMaire’s Cajun Catfish and Seafood House, 3500 W. Broadway Blvd.
Bond later confirmed the deputy did not have a body or car camera. KOMU reported Monday night it had been three years since the department had body cameras.
“We did have body cameras in the past however we had technical difficulties with that and funding has not allowed us to be able to provide them for the deputies at this point,” Bond told KOMU.
Bond said the Missouri State Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control will be handling the investigation into the shooting. He said members of the division responded to the scene late Saturday night.
According to the Associated Press, Bond said the deputy has worked for Pettis County since 2007 and the department has not had any previous complaints against him. The deputy has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard practice in officer-involved shootings.
MSHP Troop A Public Information Officer Sgt. Andrew Bell told the Democrat “a lot more of the evidence is going to have to be explored, examined, etc. in the coming days.”
“Our investigative team is going to canvas the area to look for any witnesses, videos, etc.,” Bell told the Democrat. “That can include a bypasser with a cellphone, that can include a nearby business with surveillance video.”
Bell said the highway patrol had requested a search warrant for Fizer’s vehicle, which had been secured at the scene and was then held in a secure lot. Bell also said he did not have a timeline for how the investigation would play out.
“All these different questions need to be answered, hopefully they will be answered and to give a specific time frame? It’s almost impossible.” Bell told the Democrat Monday afternoon. “It would be great to say, ‘Ya we’ll know in 24 hours’ or ‘We’ll know by the end of the week.’ Well, it may be a month.”
Bell told the Democrat he did not have any information on whether a weapon had or had not been found in Fizer’s possession. Bell was also asked whether Fizer was shot inside or outside of her vehicle.
“That’s going to be a part of the investigative details that I’m not aware of,” Bell answered. “I think that’s probably getting too specific.”
Bell said Fizer’s case is a “top priority” and the investigation was complex.
“It’s highly complex, not just this one,” Bell explained. “It’s not that this one is any different than any other officer-involved shooting. Any homicide, any officer-involved shooting, any high profile case is always going to be scrutinized. Whether it’s scrutinized by the legal letters of the law or if it’s scrutinized by public opinion. So what I think people don’t understand or maybe sometimes don’t appreciate is that it has to be a slower, more patient understanding of the process…
“I’m just emphasizing the fact that we are going to great lengths, great efforts, to thoroughly investigate this because of the nature of the incident,” he continued. “It’s a top priority, it’s not being put on the back burner by any means. It’s just going to have to be a methodical process.”
This is the second deputy-involved shooting in less than a year for the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office. Four deputies and a highway patrol trooper responded to a verbal disturbance at a residence in the 16000 block of Oak Point Road in rural La Monte in northwest Pettis County on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Upon arrival, shots were reportedly fired at the officers. According to a highway patrol news release, the subject, later identified as 58-year-old Jay P. Messer, ignored verbal commands to drop the weapon. The officers returned fire and struck Messer, who died of his injuries at the scene. No officers were injured.
Charges were not filed in that incident.