A Lancaster city police officer fatally shot a man following a call for a domestic disturbance on Sunday evening in Lancaster city, leading to a night full of protests and a demand for answers.
The 27-year-old man, Ricardo Muñoz, was shot after brandishing a knife and running after a police officer. Here is the body camera footage; viewer discretion advised.
Muñoz's body laid on the sidewalk for nearly four hours while district attorney's office investigated the incident. The heightened police presence quickly drew a crowd.
Lancaster city officials have commented on the incident. Read their comments below.
Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace
STATEMENT FROM MAYOR SORACE: This has been a heartbreaking day for our city. I grieve for the loss of life and know that there are more questions to be answered as the investigation continues. 1/4— City of Lancaster (@cityoflancpa) September 14, 2020
Councilor Amanda Bakay
City Council President Ismail Smith Wade-El
Lancaster city councilman Ismail Smith-Wade-El https://t.co/P3K2nOA22z— Carter Walker (@CarterLNP) September 14, 2020
Councilor Xavier Garcia-Molina
Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams
“A police-involved shooting has significant impact on a community, as we are seeing with the large number of individuals gathering in the streets. However, I am asking that all reaction be tempered as the investigation is ongoing.”
We will do our best to release details about the incident in a timely manner. We ask that acts of protest remain peaceful as violence and destruction of property will become headlines and serve no purpose for the safety and well-being of our citizens and neighborhoods."
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania)
A full grown man, wielding a large carving knife over his head while charging an officer, obviously poses a mortal threat to that officer. In general, police officers in this type of situation are well within their rights to use deadly force to protect themselves and the public. https://t.co/UeH2dpxpCe— Senator Pat Toomey (@SenToomey) September 14, 2020
Gov. Tom Wolf's Press Secretary, Lyndsay Kensinger
"The governor has not seen the video of the shooting, but was briefed on it this morning.
It is always tragic when there is a loss of life, and it is the governor's hope that a thorough investigation into this shooting provides justice, comfort, and closure to all involved.
The Pennsylvania State Police assisted with the protests last evening, but the city has not requested additional assistance as of today. The State Police remain ready to assist if needed."
Joint statement from Senators Scott Martin and Ryan Aument
“We would like to express our deepest appreciation to the Lancaster Bureau of Police and the Lancaster County District Attorney’s office for quickly releasing the body cam footage from the recent officer-involved shooting and for providing the highest level of transparency in the subsequent investigation. As many in the Lancaster County community are now aware, an incident occurred on Sunday, September 13th when officers were called to respond to a domestic violence situation that quickly turned into a dangerous encounter when a man charged at the responding officer with a large knife."
“While the body cam footage supports the use of force as being justified in this case, any loss of life is always a tragedy for the community. As we wait for the Lancaster County District Attorney’s office to release their findings from the investigation, we urge all community residents to have compassion for the family of the deceased as they grieve the loss of a loved one."
“It is extremely unfortunate that this incident sparked a rush to judgement that led to numerous acts of violence throughout our community last night. It is even more unfortunate that many of those arrested for perpetrating those acts came here from outside Lancaster County, as they do not represent the majority of community members wishing to protest peacefully. The Constitutional right to assemble and protest peacefully is a pillar of our society, and we offer our support to those who wish to make their voices heard. However, the acts of destruction that we saw last night completely undermine the message that peaceful protesters wish to deliver. It is our hope that the perpetrators of these terrible acts are identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
“We remain hopeful that the extraordinary transparency and accountability of the Lancaster Police will ensure last night’s unfortunate period of unrest will be an isolated incident. As always, we are deeply grateful for their efforts and those of the many supporting police departments to keep our communities safe during these most difficult circumstances.”
Representative Lloyd Smucker
State Rep. Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster)
“As our community is reeling from the events of this past Sunday, we should keep a few things in mind while we process and attempt to heal from this tragedy. The grief and pain of Ricardo Muñoz’s family remains foremost in our thoughts. Their lives are irreversibly altered, and their suffering must not go unacknowledged.
“Although the details of this shooting are still unfolding, we know that this young man struggled for much of his life with mental illness. This, like too many other similar incidents, lays bare the imperative for developing ways of recognizing and responding in real-time to individual mental health crises. Programs like Lancaster’s Crisis Intervention exist precisely for these types of occurrences, but they currently lack the funding to respond safely and effectively.
“As House Democratic Policy Committee chairman, I have held six public hearings this year on police reform, including a hearing on Aug. 13 that dealt specifically with the police approach to mental health calls. These hearings have shown the delicate balance that law enforcement has in protecting themselves and our community while handling possible suspects in a safe manner. Testimonies and videos are at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee/hearingmaterials.
“As evident from the body camera footage, the officer acted according to his training and in self-defense to a very real, dangerous threat. The profound responsibility of law enforcement officers to protect our citizenship often requires making split-second, life-and-death decisions. While recent events all over our country have uncovered serious faults in the system, this case does not seem to reflect a similar abuse of power or excess of force.
“Finally, the peaceful protests against police brutality both here and across the country have been essential to sustaining the national dialogue on police reform and combating systemic racism. Lancaster should be proud of the activism and sense of civic duty that abounds in this community. The violence and vandalism that occurred on Sunday night, however, have no place in this dialogue and we must denounce that conduct. I urge those involved in peacefully protesting injustice in a constructive manner to continue the fight while denouncing those who seek to disrupt the legitimacy of peaceful protest with violence and destruction.
“This event is yet another reminder of the monumental tasks before us in overcoming a myriad of social issues. In our mourning, let us be sure that we continue to find ways to be better.”