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Family of Mentally Ill Man Killed by Police Speak Out About Incident

The family of a man shot and killed by police is speaking out about the incident.  His sister is claiming that she just wanted to get help for her mentally-ill brother when she called authorities Fox News reported.

Ricardo Miguel Munoz, 27, was shot and killed by police after he broke through the front door of his mother’s home while wielding a knife, according to body cam video footage recorded at the scene.  

Munoz’s sister, Rulennis, 33, claimed that she called authorities to see about getting help for her brother.  Ricardo Munoz had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and was been treated for both illnesses with medications.  His sister said he had not been taking his medications recently.

Rulennis Muonz said that she had called a local crisis intervention center and a non-emergency police number, but had not called 911 after her brother had become aggressive with their mother, Miguelina Pena.  “I called to find out what the procedure was to get him some help,” Rulennis said.  She was upset at the actions of the responding police officers.  “When a person has mental issues, they shouldn’t be treated like a criminal. They shouldn’t be killed for being sick,” she said.

Pena said, through a translator, “They should have come here to help, not to kill, and they shot him straight through the heart.” She also said that her son had battled mental illness for over a decade and needed further help.

Ricardo Munoz was scheduled to be tried for an incident in March of 2019 when he allegedly stabbed four people, including a 16-year-old boy, during a fight over a stolen video game console. Police responding to the scene found Munoz with the knife at his throat and were forced to Taser him when he refused to drop the weapon.  His trial was originally scheduled for March but was postponed to October due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the stabbing situation, Munoz was charged with multiple offenses for stalking and harassing a girl at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology according to Lancaster Online.  He was ordered to stay away from the College, but he wound up returning.  He was placed in a first-time offender program and ordered to perform community service.

Munoz’s death touched off demonstrations in Lancaster, PA that turned violent and resulted in vandalism and arson.  Police were forced to use tear gas to disperse the rioters.  

Rulennis Munoz condemned the violence resulting from her brother’s death.  “Violence will just make this issue worse. We need to come together as a people to figure out a way how to stop this from happening,” she said.

The issue of mental health has been gaining more attention nationwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Some public health officials have warned about the dangers that isolation can pose to mental health and stability.  Munoz’s case is one of three recent confrontations between police and mentally ill persons.  Daniel Prude was killed in Rochester, NY in March when police tried to restrain him, and over the weekend police shot and killed a mentally ill man in Buffalo, NY after he attacked an officer with a baseball bat.

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