More News:

September 14, 2020

Fatal Lancaster police shooting sparks overnight protests

Officers use pepper spray to disperse demonstrators downtown

Investigations Shootings
Lancaster police shooting Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Protests erupted in Lancaster after an officer fatally shot Ricardo Munoz, 27, on Sunday afternoon. Body camera footage shows Munoz brandishing a knife as he ran toward the officer, the District Attorney's Office says. Above, a file shot of police lights.

A Lancaster police officer fatally shot a 27-year-old man armed with a knife Sunday afternoon, prompting hundreds of people to protest in the city's streets. Some of the demonstrations turned violent. 

Police deployed pepper spray early Monday morning on a group of protesters who had blocked an access ramp at the downtown police station. 

Protesters threw bricks through the front of the police station and into a nearby post office, police said. They also threw bottles, rocks, bricks and other projectiles at officers attempting to disperse protesters from the access ramp. 

The demonstrations came in response to the fatal shooting of Ricardo Munoz earlier in the day.

Police responded to a reported domestic disturbance on the 300 block of Laurel Street at 4:13 p.m. The 911 caller said her brother was becoming aggressive toward his mother and attempting to break into her home, police said.

The first officer arrived at the residence at 4:24 p.m. and made contact with a family member. Munoz then exited the front door and began chasing the officer, who fired several shots, striking Munoz. 

Footage from the officer's body camera shows Munoz holding a knife in his right hand above his head and charging at the officer, the Lancaster District Attorney's Office said. It also shows the officer firing his gun and Munoz falling to the ground. 

Footage from the incident can be seen below. Please note that it contains graphic images. 

The D.A.'s Office is investigating the incident to determine whether the officer's use of force was justified. The officer has been placed on leave.

District Attorney Heather Adams released a statement late Sunday night urging protesters to demonstrate peacefully. She said all findings will be released once the investigation is complete.

"A police-involved shooting has significant impact on a community, as we are seeing with the large number of individuals gathering in the streets," Adams said. "However, I am asking that all reaction be tempered as the investigation is ongoing. We will do our best to release details about the incident in a timely manner. 

"We ask that acts of protest remain peaceful as violence and destruction of property will become headlines and serve no purpose for the safety and well-being of our citizens and neighborhoods."

About 100 protesters gathered on the access ramp along West Chestnut Street, locking arms in a line. Police said that they warned the group that chemical munitions would be deployed if they did not move from the ramp. 

Police defended their use of pepper spray, saying the protesters failed to follow instructions. 

A county vehicle parked in front of the police station also was damaged by protestors, police said. Two police vehicles were damaged near the scene of the shooting, according to Lancaster Online

"This has been a heartbreaking day for our city," Mayor Danene Sorace said in a statement Sunday. "I grieve for the loss of life and know that there are more questions to be answered as the investigation continues." 

The police shooting comes about three months after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism. Several cities, including Philadelphia, have sought to enact various police reforms in response. 

Last month, the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who was shot several times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin, prompted additional demonstrations.

Follow Pat & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @Pat_Ralph | @thePhillyVoice
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice
Add Pat's RSS feed to your feed reader
Have a news tip? Let us know.