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Pennsylvania Officials Face Lawsuit After Police Shoot and Kill Mentally Ill Man

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Family Files Wrongful Death Suit After Police Shooting of Ricardo Muñoz

Attorneys Steven Levin, Daisy Ayllon, and Julie Murphy from Levin & Perconti in Chicago are representing the family of Ricardo Muñoz in a wrongful death suit against the Lancaster Police Department and local officials. The team is working alongside Michael Perna and Ryan Borchik of Pennsylvania’s Perna & Abracht Law Offices.

Ricardo Muñoz, of Pennsylvania, was fatally shot by police on Sept. 13 in response to his family asking for assistance during his mental health episode. Mr. Muñoz, 27, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in his early 20s, was well-known by the local police department, whom his family had turned to repeatedly for help in similar situations.

  • On Sept. 13, Mr. Muñoz’s family had again called the crisis intervention hotline when he became agitated and experienced a psychotic episode.
  • Following the crisis intervention operator’s instructions, they called the local non-emergency police number for assistance and 911.
  • Local police dispatched Officer Karson Arnold to the Muñoz family residence.
  • Within minutes of the officer’s arrival, Ricardo Muñoz was dead after being shot multiple times by Arnold in front of his home.
  • His mother, Ms. Peña, watched the incident unfold in horror.

“Mr. Muñoz’s family first looked to a local crisis center for help with his well-documented mental health condition. But instead, the police arrived and responded by shooting and killing a son and brother,” said Steven Levin, founder and senior partner at Levin & Perconti. “Next, the family looked to local law enforcement for information and accountability, but instead, they encountered a most condescending response from the District Attorney and received no transparency. With our help, they now look to the federal court for answers and – justice for Ricardo.”

A Mother Ensures Justice for Her Son

Hoping to hold local officials accountable to prevent future mental health-related tragedies, Miguelina Peña filed suit in federal court on Monday, Feb. 8, naming the police officer who shot her son and the former police chief, city, and county as defendants. The suit, which comes in the wake of local officials’ decision not to file charges against Officer Arnold, notes that the officials provided no proper procedures in place to deal with people in mental health crises and that the officer failed to make any attempt to de-escalate the situation or use less-lethal means to bring Mr. Muñoz to safety.

Citing the city’s deficient policies concerning officer supervision and training, attorney Daisy Ayllon responded, “Ultimately, Ricardo’s lawsuit is about mental health reform, about police accountability when dealing with mentally-disturbed individuals who have committed no crime, and about the prevention of similar tragedies as a direct result of untrained police and heavy-handed intervention.”

The Muñoz family’s lawsuit seeks damages for Ricardo’s pain and suffering, including denying medical attention after he was shot and for his wrongful death. Emotional distress was also inflicted upon his mother as she witnessed his killing and the physical injury she suffered when, following her son’s fatal shooting, she was tackled against a police vehicle.

Levin & Perconti: Nationally Recognized Legal Leaders

We understand that families may not know where to turn after the sudden or unexpected loss of a loved one battling a mental illness, especially when law enforcement is involved. The experienced legal team can help. At Levin & Perconti, our attorneys represent people throughout Chicago, the state of Illinois, and nationwide in these sensitive and timely situations. Please, contact us now for a FREE consultation at 312-332-2872 in Chicago or toll-free at 1-877-374-1417.