LANCASTER, Pa., Oct. 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Local officials this week denied a request to release police body cam videos and other information surrounding the police killing of Ricardo Muñoz.
Muñoz, 27, was fatally shot after his family contacted police for their help last month during a mental health crisis. Mr. Muñoz, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in his early 20s, was well-known to local crisis intervention teams and the Lancaster Police Department, whom his family had turned to repeatedly for help in similar situations.
Lawyers representing the Muñoz family have launched a civil investigation into the Lancaster Police Department and other entities involved in the matter and had called for the release of the full, unedited video of the incident from the police officer's body camera and the full, unedited recordings of the calls that led to the officer's dispatch. City officials today declined to release the requested information, claiming that a legal review is necessary.
"Despite having already publicly announced the results of their own investigation into the case, the City of Lancaster is refusing to release the full evidence behind that conclusion," said attorney Daisy Ayllon of Levin & Perconti. "The District Attorney and other lawyers already have reviewed all of this information and have selectively released information to the public, yet they are refusing to immediately release the same information to the family despite repeated requests claiming that additional legal review is necessary."
On Sept. 13, Mr. Muñoz's family called the crisis intervention hotline when Ricardo became agitated and was experiencing a psychotic episode. Following instructions from the crisis intervention operator, they then called the local non-emergency police number for assistance as well as 911. Local police dispatched a police officer to the Muñoz family residence. Within minutes of the police officer's arrival, Ricardo Muñoz was dead. He was shot multiple times by the police officer in front of his home.
"The District Attorney's investigator did not even interview Ricardo's sister, who had called 911, and who also was an eye witness to events immediately before and after the shooting. Nor did they look into the question as to whether the shooting officer had violated best practices in responding to the call, or whether the use of non-lethal force was an option. In fact, the DA investigators didn't even know whether the officer was equipped with non-lethal options such as tasers, rubber bullets, or sandbags," said Michael Perna, who is co-counsel for the family.
"The Lancaster police department's failure to implement a plan to de-escalate a mental health crisis in a non-violent, non-lethal way is a tragedy for Ricardo's family and for families with loved ones who suffer from mental health issues and who rely on the police department and crisis intervention centers to help them protect—not kill—their loved ones," added Ayllon. "The family and the public have the right to know how the family's call for help for their loved one in crisis could have go so horribly wrong."
ATTENTION MEDIA: MEMBERS OF THE MUÑOZ FAMILY ARE AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEWS IN ENGLISH AND SPANISH. ATTORNEY DAISY ALLYON ALSO CAN PROVIDE COMMENTS IN ENGLISH AND SPANISH UPON REQUEST.
Levin & Perconti is a nationally renowned law firm concentrating in all types of personal injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death litigation. The lawyers at Levin & Perconti are committed to protecting and vindicating the rights of people who are injured by the negligence of others. Please contact the firm at (312) 332-2872 or visit www.levinperconti.com for more information.
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