Pennsylvania authorities say officer justified in killing of mentally ill man

The family of Ricardo Munoz rejects the D.A.'s claim that there was 'no time or opportunity for de-escalation.'

The fatal police shooting of a mentally ill man in September that sparked demonstrations in Lancaster, Pennsylvania has been deemed justified. 

Ricardo Munoz, 27, was shot after he chased an officer with a knife. 

Last month’s fatal police shooting of Ricardo Munoz, 27, a mentally ill Pennsylvania man, sparked demonstrations,
but it has been deemed justified. (Lancaster Bureau of Police)

Police released body camera footage which showed an officer firing several shots at Munoz, who fell to the ground and died at the scene. 

The Lancaster County district attorney said that “the officer’s belief that Muñoz presented an imminent threat to his life was beyond reasonable.” 

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District Attorney Heather Adams told reporters that there was “no time or opportunity for de-escalation.”

According to his family, Munoz had been previously diagnosed with schizophrenia. His sister, Rulennis Munoz, told NBC News that authorities should have reacted differently. 

“This wasn’t a criminal,” she said. “This was a mentally ill person.” 

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Another of Munoz’s sisters was the one who called 911 for assistance after he was being aggressive. She told dispatchers he was mentally ill, and she requested officers to take him to a hospital. 

However, police shot Munoz after he “immediately, and without warning, charged the officer,” Adams said. “The officer ran for his life.” 

Rulennis Munoz said that in the case of the mentally ill, a caseworker should be a first responder.

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“The right person should have been there,” she said, contending that, in these types of cases, there needs to be someone dispatched by authorities who “knows how to deal with this situation.” 

A dozen people were arrested in protests across the city of Lancaster in the wake of Munoz’s shooting. Demonstrators faced numerous charges, including conspiracy to commit arson after a dumpster was set on fire. 

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A judge set a bond for the protesters of $1 million, which Pennsylvania Lt. Gov John Fetterman called “blatantly unconstitutional.” 

Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace said Munoz’s shooting has prompted the city to develop a crisis intervention “co-responder model” that would include social workers and police responding together to calls that involve people with mental health issues. 

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