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Officers won’t be charged in fatal shooting at McDonald’s

April 5th, 2022 by WCBC Radio

Four Maryland police officers won’t be charged in the fatal shooting of a 21-year-old Black man in a McDonald’s drive-thru last summer, officials said.

The Montgomery County’s State’s Attorney’s Office announced Monday that an investigation by prosecutors in neighboring Howard County into Ryan LeRoux's July 2021 death was complete and a grand jury found the shooting was legally justified under the circumstances, news outlets reported.

Officers were called to the McDonald’s in Gaithersburg on July 16 for a report of a person refusing to leave the drive-thru line. An officer found LeRoux reclined in the driver’s seat with headphones on and both hands on his cellphone. The officer said over the radio that he saw a gun on the front passenger seat and asked LeRoux several times to open the passenger-side door, but he did not, officials said.

Officers negotiated with LeRoux for half an hour. Then, when several officers said LeRoux pointed that gun at police, officers fired. Based on the body camera footage, prosecutors said it was not clear if LeRoux was holding a gun or a cellphone.

“He sat up, and he extended his arm in a straight, locked way towards the police, his right arm,” Howard County state’s Attorney Rich Gibson said. “We know that to be the case. The question is, what was in his hand?”

A gun and a cellphone were found in LeRoux’s lap after the shooting, prosecutors said. A crisis negotiator was on the way, but did not arrive before the shooting, prosecutors said.

LeRoux’s father, Paul LeRoux, and activists have protested, saying the situation should have been resolved without deadly force.

“Rhonda and I are deeply saddened that four Montgomery County Police Department officers met our African-American son’s cry for help with 23 shots fired. Ryan LeRoux was in the midst of a mental health crisis — not a crime. The MCPD knew that Ryan needed help — not bullets,” LeRoux said in a statement Monday.

County police said all four officers have been returned to full-time, active duty status and there will be an internal investigation.