Ongoing protests in Lancaster, Pa., are making national headlines.
On Monday, eight people protesting the police shooting of 27-year-old Richardo Munoz were arrested and charged for alleged rioting.
The eight protesters are facing felony riot, arson and vandalism charges, according to a report by LancasterOnline.
Bail for six of the alleged rioters was set at $1 million by Magisterial District Judge Bruce A. Roth Monday, according to court documents, drawing shock from state officials and the community.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman called the bail amount “blatantly unconstitutional” on Twitter Tuesday.
The 8th Amendment of U.S. Constitution:
“Excessive bail shall not be required”
Ms. Enterline’s bail amount is blatantly unconstitutional. https://t.co/jtWeDBLhJj
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) September 15, 2020
At approximately 4:15 p.m. Sunday, Lancaster city police responded to a domestic disturbance in the 300 block of Laurel Street, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s office.
Video of footage of the incident shows Munoz holding a knife above his head and running toward a police officer. According to multiple sources, the officer fired at Munoz several times, killing him at the scene.
The Lancaster County District Attorney’s office is investigating the incident and “will make a final determination on if the use-of-force by police was justified or if a crime occured,” a statement from the Lancaster County District Attorney’s office read.
District Attorney Heather Adams has asked for peaceful demonstration while the shooting is being investigated.
“A police-involved shooting has a significant impact on a community, as we are seeing with the large number of individuals gathering in the streets,” Adams said Sunday night. “However, I am asking that all reactions be tempered as the investigation is ongoing.” “We will do our best to release details about the incident in a timely manner,” DA Adams said. We ask that acts of protest remain peaceful as violence and destruction of property will become headlines and serve no purpose for the safety and wellbeing of our citizens and neighborhoods.
Multiple sources say the protests began peacefully, turning violent early Monday morning.
State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, issued a statement Tuesday about the incident:
“… As evident from the body camera footage, the officer acted according to his training and in self-defense to a very real, dangerous threat. The profound responsibility of law enforcement officers to protect our citizenship often requires making split-second, life-and-death decisions. While recent events all over our country have uncovered serious faults in the system, this case does not seem to reflect a similar abuse of power or excess of force.
“Finally, the peaceful protests against police brutality both here and across the country have been essential to sustaining the national dialogue on police reform and combating systemic racism. Lancaster should be proud of the activism and sense of civic duty that abounds in this community. The violence and vandalism that occurred on Sunday night, however, have no place in this dialogue and we must denounce that conduct. I urge those involved in peacefully protesting injustice in a constructive manner to continue the fight while denouncing those who seek to disrupt the legitimacy of peaceful protest with violence and destruction.
“This event is yet another reminder of the monumental tasks before us in overcoming a myriad of social issues. In our mourning, let us be sure that we continue to find ways to be better.”
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., also weighed in on Twitter:
A full grown man, wielding a large carving knife over his head while charging an officer, obviously poses a mortal threat to that officer. In general, police officers in this type of situation are well within their rights to use deadly force to protect themselves and the public. https://t.co/UeH2dpxpCe
— Senator Pat Toomey (@SenToomey) September 14, 2020