Lancaster, Pennsylvania, police shooting of knife-wielding man ruled a homicide

The fatal police shooting of a knife-wielding man in Pennsylvania over the weekend has been ruled a homicide, the Lancaster County Coroner said Tuesday.

The shooting Sunday of Ricardo Munoz, 27, after a report of a domestic disturbance led to protests one day later in which eight people were arrested.

The cause of death was gunshot wounds to the body and manner of death is homicide, Lancaster Coroner Stephen Diamantoni told CNN.

The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, which is investigating the shooting, said officers responded on Sunday to a “reported domestic disturbance involving a person with a knife.”

Lancaster Police said in a news release that a 911 caller had reported that her brother was becoming aggressive with his mother and attempting to break into her house.

Body camera footage shows a family member at the door when the first officer arrives at the scene. The woman soon steps outside and a man, identified by authorities as Munoz, runs out of the home toward the officer. The footage shows Munoz wielding a knife above his head, “in clear view, in a threatening manner,” the district attorney’s office said in a release.

The police officer fired several shots, ultimately killing Munoz. No one else was hit by gunfire, according to the district attorney’s office.

The investigation by the district attorney’s office is ongoing. The police department also said it was looking into whether officers followed all training guidelines and policies properly, according to their news release.

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

Protesters gather at the police station

Demonstrators in Lancaster took to the streets following the shooting, which comes amid months of widespread protests across the nation over police brutality and systemic racism.

Lancaster police said they arrested eight individuals early Monday after demonstrators caused damage to the police station, a parked vehicle, and a US Post Office building. Demonstrators also piled street signs, trash cans and other items into an intersection, at one point starting a dumpster fire, according to police.

Those arrested received charges including arson, institutional vandalism, riot, failure to disperse and obstructing highways and other public passages, police said.

Detectives are reviewing several hours of online video as well as surveillance in an effort to identify additional suspects, police later said.

Lancaster police said that more than 100 protesters had gathered on an access ramp outside the police station. Police also said they used a “public address system to provide several warnings that if the group did not move from the ramp that chemical munitions would be deployed.” The department said the group failed to follow instructions and that officers used chemical agents and pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

“Any loss of life, regardless of how it happens, is devastating,” Lancaster city Police Chief Jarrad Berkihiser said during a news conference on Sunday. “We need the community to come together and we want the community to stay calm, stay at peace, and allow this process to play out.”

Before the crowd dispersal and property damage on Monday, a peaceful crowd had formed at the scene of the shooting on Sunday, Berkihiser said. He added that community stakeholders and clergy members within the crowd were trying to maintain calm.

The district attorney’s office asked in a tweet on Sunday that protests remain peaceful “as violence and destruction of property will become headlines and serve no purpose for the safety and wellbeing of our citizens and neighborhoods.”

The city of Lancaster is racially diverse

Some social media users criticized the protests in Lancaster and claimed that protests had spread from larger cities to remote areas such as “Amish Country” — an incorrect characterization of the city of Lancaster itself.

Lancaster, the seat of Lancaster County, is home to about 59,265 residents and is racially diverse, according to the latest Census figures. The population is about 40% White (non-Hispanic or Latino), 39% Hispanic or Latino and 18% Black.

Amish families and communities generally live and work in more rural areas throughout Lancaster County, according to Lancaster County’s tourism bureau. A 2017 study from Elizabethtown College estimated that about 74,250 Amish live in Pennsylvania.

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