Lancaster, PA – The Lancaster police officer who fatally shot a knife-wielding suspect during a harrowing attack outside a residence last month was justified in using deadly force and will not face criminal charges in connection with the incident.
Lancaster District Attorney Heather Adams said during a press conference on Oct. 14 that there is “no question” that the officer-involved shooting of 27-year-old Ricardo Munoz was justified, Lancaster Online reported.
Munoz was fatally shot after he ran out of a house and chased a Lancaster police officer with a nine-inch, “hunting-style knife” during a domestic violence call on Sept. 13, Adams said.
“Based on my review of the facts and the applicable law, there is no question – no question – that the officer was justified in the use of deadly force on Ricardo Muñoz on Sept. 13,” Adams said during the press conference.
She said the investigation confirmed that there was no time for the officer to attempt to de-escalate the situation because he immediately came under attack, WGAL reported.
“Whether it was a police officer or a citizen, they would have been justified using deadly force that day,” she added, according to Lancaster Online.
Adams released videos, photos, and played the 911 call that Munoz’s sister, Deborah Munoz, placed that resulted in police responding to the Laurel Street home.
The caller told the dispatcher that Munoz suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, had punched a vehicle, and was trying to force his way into their mother’s house, Lancaster Online reported.
Bodycam footage showed one of the officers as he walked down the sidewalk towards the home.
A moment later, the front door of a house began to open and a woman on the other side started yelling at someone inside the residence, the video showed.
She suddenly scrambled out of the house – closing the door behind her – as a man yelled out from somewhere in the home.
“Get back, get back,” the officer told the woman, as he also stepped away from the front porch slightly.
She was barely clear of the entryway when the door flew open again and Munoz came out of the home with a knife raised above his head, heading directly for the officer, the video showed.
The officer tried to run away to put distance between himself and the armed man, but the knife-wielding attacker quickly closed in on him.
He was just feet away when the officer fired his duty weapon, hitting him multiple times.
Munoz immediately collapsed to the ground and dropped his knife onto the pavement, the video showed.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, Lancaster Online reported.
Rioters converged on the scene in the wake of the fatal officer-involved shooting, smashing out the windows of the LPD station, the post office, and multiple private vehicles and patrol cars, WGAL reported.
Munoz was no stranger to the Lancaster Police Department (LPD), police said.
Officers also arrested him in March of 2019 for allegedly stabbing three adults and a child, the Patriot-News reported.
When officers arrived at the scene of that incident, they found Munoz standing out on the sidewalk, gripping a knife, according to police.
He allegedly held the blade to his own throat when he saw the officers approaching.
Munoz ignored their commands to drop the knife and attempted to retreat into a home at one point, but was tased and taken into custody on four counts of aggravated assault, the Patriot-News reported.
Officers found three adults inside the residence suffering from multiple slash and stab wounds, according to police.
They also found a 16-year-old boy who had been stabbed in the face, ankle, thigh, and torso, the Patriot-News reported.
The stabbing victims all survived the attack.
Munoz was scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 9 in connection with the 2019 stabbings, Lancaster Online reported.
Adams’ office met with Munoz’s family members prior to Wednesday’s press conference to let them know what the investigation had revealed, Lancaster Online reported.
Steven Levin, one of the family’s attorneys, said they were “disappointed with the investigation and the conclusions the district attorney reached.”
Another attorney for the Munoz family, Michael Perna, claimed that the district attorney’s investigation “raises more questions than it answers,” Lancaster Online reported.
“Ricardo was experiencing a medical crisis, and his family sought professional intervention, so why didn’t crisis Intervention do its job?” Perna asked. “Why wasn’t non-lethal force tried first?”
Munoz’s sister, Rulennis Munoz, blasted the Lancaster Police Department (LPD) for not handling the situation in the way the family had wanted them to.
“We called for help. We didn’t call for bullets,” she told reporters.
Adams refused to release the officer’s name due to concerns for his safety and because the shooting was justified, Lancaster Online reported.
She pointed out that protests had erupted into violence in the wake of the officer-involved shooting, and said she hoped that demonstrators will refrain from destroying the city now that the outcome of the investigation has been revealed.