Pulled Over: The Hannah Fizer Case

Hannah Fizer was fatally shot after being pulled over for speeding. Her family’s fight for justice is hampered by a prosecutor’s ruling that the shooting was avoidable but justified.

Pulled Over: The Hannah Fizer Case crime scene
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
December 27, 2021
16:37 minutes
Funding Initiative
Short-Form Series and Special Projects

Orlando de Guzman

Orlando de Guzman is a Filipino American filmmaker whose work has covered themes of police brutality, migration, civil conflict, war, and trauma. At age 19, he moved to the U.S. to pursue journalism, working in public radio and television. Orlando received a Peabody and Emmy for his coverage of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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The Film

In June 2020, a sheriff’s deputy in Pettis County, Missouri pulled Hannah Fizer over for speeding. Minutes later, the officer fatally shot Fizer. Both Fizer and the deputy who shot her were white, a common dynamic in police shootings that occur in predominantly white, rural parts of the country. Contrary to the sheriff’s claim that Hannah threatened him with a gun, no gun was ever found and Fizer’s family insisted she never threatened anyone in her life. A special prosecutor ruled that the shooting was avoidable but justified, prompting local protests. In November 2020, voters ousted the local sheriff who had defended the shooting. The new sheriff immediately fired the deputy who had killed the 25-year-old Fizer and reinstated required use of body cameras.

Hannah’s father, John, considered himself “pro-police” and recalled that Hannah had been considering a career in law enforcement, but he believed his daughter’s shooting was a gross miscarriage of justice. The Fizer family filed a wrongful death suit against the former deputy, however, the special prosecutor argued that he had no choice but to clear the deputy sheriff under Missouri law. He said that if an officer insists their life is being threatened, and there is no body camera or other evidence to clearly contradict them, then existing law allows them to use deadly force. It goes down as a case of an officer’s word against a defendant who can no longer speak for herself.