Rulennis Munoz, at center right, speaks with her attorney, Michael Perna, at right. Her mother, Miguelina, stands to her left. Rulennis called county crisis intervention and the police non-emergency number to get medical help for her brother before her sister called 911, leading to a deadly encounter between police and her brother.
Brett Sholtis is WITF’s Transforming Health reporter, covering health policy and community health issues that affect Pennsylvanians. Brett strives to share personal stories that have a tie to broad issues and emerging trends. He seeks to give voice to diverse viewpoints, including those of people living with mental illness, disability and those living in poverty. He plays a key role in WITF’s mental health series, Through the Cracks, which reports on problem areas in mental health services and efforts to reduce stigma around those living with behavioral disorders. Previously, Brett was a business reporter at the York Daily Record, where his work included award-winning examinations of the nuclear power industry and food safety. He is a University of Pittsburgh graduate and a Pennsylvania Army National Guard veteran.
(Lancaster) — The Lancaster police officer who fatally shot 27-year-old Ricardo Munoz was justified in doing so and will not face any criminal charges, according to the county district attorney.
The officer, whose name has not been made public, was responding to a 911 call when Munoz ran outside, shouted at the officer to get back, and charged toward him with a knife. The shooting was captured on police body camera footage that was made public soon after the incident.
Brett Sholtis / WITF
Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams watches the Sept. 13 police body camera video showing Ricardo Munoz with a knife running toward an unnamed Lancaster police officer at an Oct. 14 press conference.
Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said the video shows that the officer didn’t have time to use de-escalation techniques or non-lethal force such as a stun gun.
“The law simply does not require that the officer use less-than-lethal force when faced with imminent death or serious bodily injury to themselves or another,” Adams said.
The district attorney made the family’s 911 call public. In that call, Ricardo’s sister Deborah says that Ricardo is being “very aggressive” and that he has schizophrenia. She requests help taking Ricardo to the hospital.
Deborah also says that Ricardo had punched the inside of a car, and that he was trying to break into his mother’s house.
Ricardo’s sister, Rulennis Munoz, said that the district attorney and police disregarded the family’s requests for behavioral health help.
“And instead of a cop just being there, there should have been other responders,” Munoz said. “There should have been someone that knew how to deal with this type of situation.”