Ricardo Muñoz's body was left on the ground for four hours after he was shot by a Lancaster police officer Sunday afternoon.
His family, and others, have asked why so much time passed before members of the Lancaster County Coroner's office took it away.
In addition, people who gathered near the scene in the aftermath of Sunday's shooting were heard asking repeatedly why an ambulance was not called. That question was repeated by the family in the days since.
Lancaster police Chief Jarrad Berkihiser said an ambulance was dispatched Sunday afternoon to the scene on Laurel Street in the city's southwest quadrant. But Lancaster city firefighters, who are trained emergency medical providers, arrived first, according to Berkihiser.
“So firefighters responded and (a captain) checked his pulse and said he was already dead," Berkihiser said.
The ambulance that was en route to the scene was then canceled, he said.
As for why Muñoz's body — which lay where he fell after he was shot, just a couple doors down from his parents' front door — took so long to move is the result of how police shootings are investigated.
DA’s office takes over
The city police department does not conduct investigations of itself in such instances. That responsibility shifted immediately to the Lancaster County District Attorney's office.
Unlike the police, detectives working for the prosecutor's office are not on duty 24 hours a day. Brett Hambright, a spokesman with the office, said detectives began arriving soon after the shooting and followed standard crime scene processing procedures.
“We only get one opportunity to process a scene in its pristine state, so to speak, so we must use the appropriate time to collect evidence, take photos, record measurements, etc. — to ensure a comprehensive investigation," he said in an emailed statement.
“In fact, it is not unusual for the entire scene processing to take far longer than Sunday's investigative effort," he said.
Hambright said Muñoz's body was concealed from public view as soon as possible.
Within about 20 minutes of the shooting, a white tent was erected over the body to protect it from the sun and any potential rainfall. A fabric drape was then used to cover the body so onlookers could not see it.