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Lancaster Protesters View Munoz Shooting as Unjustified and Want the Police to Disarm

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Posted: Sep 15, 2020 2:00 PM

LANCASTER, Pa. — The quiet town of Lancaster was rocked with riots in the aftermath of the police shooting of Ricardo Miguel Munoz. When word spread of an officer killing a man, protests broke out on Sunday night, which quickly turned into a riot.

The Lancaster County District Attorney released the body camera footage of the incident, which showed a Lancaster police officer responding to a domestic disturbance call and Munoz charging the officer with a knife in his hand. The officer at first ran away to put distance between him and Munoz, but then drew his weapon and fired.

Munoz was previously arrested by officers last year after he stabbed four people multiple times, severely wounding them.

The rioting that occurred late Sunday into early Monday morning saw agitators throw projectiles at officers, damaging the police station and nearby buildings. As officers used tear gas to disperse the crowd, they also made at least 12 arrests. In a press release, Lancaster police announced the 12 who were arrested have been charged with arson, failure to disperse, vandalism, and obstructing highways.

All who were booked in Lancaster County Prison had their bail set at $1 million, a stark contrast to how some localities, such as Portland, have dealt with rioters.

Despite the body camera footage showing the context of the shooting, protesters who gathered outside the police station on Monday night still viewed the shooting as unjustified. As rioters chanted Munoz's name, "Black Lives Matter," and "Crisis workers, not cops," a man with an American flag showed up to the area and asked what was wrong with what the officer did. People in the crowd said the officer could have used his baton or taser instead.

Later on in the night, as protesters discussed what changes they wanted to see implemented, the crowd agreed they wanted the Lancaster police to no longer be armed with guns.

"Take the guns away, like they take our guns away. You have tasers, you have batons, you have mace. Why is it that you need guns to kill us? You're killing us and murdering us!"

The sentiment is echoed by Munoz's family members, who told ABC27 he suffered from mental health issues. The family says their call to the city's crisis intervention agency was redirected to the police.

"I didn’t need my brother to be dead,” said Deborah Munoz, Ricardo’s sister. "I needed for him to get mental help...A person with mental issues, they’re not going to be acting rationally."

"There’s a million different scenarios where they could have shot him and not killed him — to take the knife away. Aren’t the police trained for that?" Miguelina Pena, Ricardo’s mother, asked.

“This police officer needs to pay for his crime because he committed a crime [against] a boy with mental health issues," Victor Fernandez, Ricardo’s step-father said.

It seemed the message on rioting would not be tolerated in Lancaster as the protesting crowd was significantly smaller than Sunday's crowd. It also did not see any of the violence as officers did not need to intervene.