A Pennsylvania police officer who shot and killed an armed man last month was “justified” in his use of lethal force, officials have announced.
Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams during a news conference on Wednesday said there was “no question” the officer feared for his life during the confrontation with Ricardo Munoz on September 13.
Police received an emergency call that evening from family members, who told authorities Munoz was acting aggressively and trying to break into the home he shared with his mother. His sister said he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and experiencing mental health issues at the time, according to Lancaster Online.
When authorities arrived at the residence in Lancaster, Munoz appeared in the doorway of the home and then charged. Body camera footage the police department released the night of the shooting shows Munoz running at the officers with a knife, prompting them to fire off four shots.
Adams again showed the video during Wednesday’s press conference, noting that Munoz was holding a “hunting-style knife,” which measured about 9 inches long with a 5-inch blade.
Adams said her office’s probe had concluded the officer “had no time or opportunity to do anything but run for his life and only resorted to lethal force when he confirmed an imminent threat to his life remained. The officer’s belief that lethal force was necessary to defend himself was reasonable and therefore, the use of force was justified under the law.”
She added he had just seconds to react after Munoz started to charge.
Munoz’s family meanwhile has criticized the police response that deadly night as well as the district attorney’s findings.
“We called for help,” his sister, Rulennis Munoz, said during a news conference. “We didn’t call for bullets,”
The family’s attorney, Steven Levin, in a statement said they were “disappointed” in the outcome of the investigation.
“The district attorney’s investigation raises more questions than it answers,” said Michael Perna, another family attorney.
“Ricardo was experiencing a medical crisis, and his family sought professional intervention, so why didn’t crisis intervention do its job? Why wasn’t non-lethal force tried first?”
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