Perna & Abracht Dedicated to Helping Ricardo Muñoz’s Family Find Justice
The September 13th police shooting of Ricardo Muñoz has rocked Lancaster and our surrounding communities. Diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in his early 20’s, at the time of his death Ricardo was in the midst of a crisis that required professional mental health intervention. Instead, the police approached it as a domestic disturbance and the situation escalated, ending in his tragic shooting.
Unfortunately, Lancaster police and many law enforcement agencies throughout the country are not trained or equipped to deal with mental health crises. Ricardo’s story highlights the desperate need to invest in social workers and other co-responders who can assist law enforcement when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis. His untimely death also exposes glaring holes in our system that prevent those with mental illness from getting the help they need. Local crisis intervention teams and Lancaster police were familiar with Ricardo. His family had contacted them for help multiple times before this incident occurred. The system failed Ricardo and his family, which led to a tragic loss of life that could have been avoided.
Perna & Abracht are currently in the middle of a civil investigation into the Lancaster Police Department and others involved in this matter. We have asked the Lancaster Police Department and the District Attorney to release the complete, unedited video from the police officer’s body camera and the full, unedited recordings of the calls that Ricardo’s family made to crisis intervention and 911. Thus far, city officials have declined to do so.
Perna & Abracht’s founding Partner, attorney Michael Perna, has been direct about the need for transparency and accountability by the Lancaster Police Department, District Attorney’s office, and other agencies involved in the matter. In a recent press release Mr. Perna stated,
“The District Attorney’s investigation raises more questions than it answers. 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?”
The City of Lancaster has already publicly announced the results of their internal investigation and have selectively released information to the public. Ricardo’s family and the public deserve to see all video of the incident and to hear the unedited recordings of the calls that were made that led to the dispatch of the police. Our team at Perna & Abracht is grateful for the opportunity to help Ricardo’s family find justice and healing, and to hold all responsible parties accountable for their actions. We are determined to get to the bottom of the circumstances surrounding his death.
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