“In this scenario,” Heather Adams told reporters Wednesday, “there was a four-second interaction— where the officer essentially runs for his life.”
It can be seen on the officer’s own body-camera video, released by his department within hours of the September 13th shooting.
27-year-old Ricardo Munoz charges the officer as soon as he arrives, waving a hunting knife with a 5-inch blade. The officer turns, retreats, then turns back to face the man, who is still running toward him, now at a distance of about 7 feet. The officer fired four shots, all of which struck Munoz, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
It was his sister who made the 911 call, a portion of which was released by the D.A. The caller can be heard asking for help, saying her mother is having trouble with her brother, who has mental health problems and is behaving aggressively. Court records show Munoz was charged with attacking four people with a knife in March of 2019.
The family was informed of the investigator’s findings just before they were announced publicly. They and their attorneys expressed disappointment.
“We called for help,” said Rulennis Munoz. “We didn’t call for bullets.”
The District Attorney, while offering her sympathy to the family, said 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.”
The District Attorney said that because there were violent protests following the shooting, and the officer has been cleared, she would not be releasing his name.
The completion of the D.A.’s probe allows Lancaster Police to continue their internal investigation into whether proper procedures were followed. Those results will also be made public.