Md. family files lawsuit against Montgomery Co. police officers who fatally shot son

A Maryland family is suing Montgomery County and the four police officers who shot and killed their son Ryan LeRoux last summer in the drive-thru lane of a McDonald’s in Gaithersburg.

A Howard County grand jury determined that the shooting death of LeRoux, who is Black, was legally justified. LeRoux, 21, had a gun on the passenger seat of the car, where he sat reclined and idle in a more than 90-minute standoff with police last July. The police opened fire when LeRoux sat up and they believed he had the gun in his hand.

Montgomery and Howard counties provide independent investigations of each other’s police shootings.

But the family said that LeRoux was in a mental health crisis and needed help; police were slow to summon crisis negotiators; and they shot Leroux while he held his cellphone in his hand, not the gun.

The federal lawsuit filed in the Maryland district charges that LeRoux threatened no one and police opened fire when crisis negotiators had radioed that they were just two minutes away.

“The very first officer that hit the scene just escalated a peaceful mental health crisis to a point of no return … Rhonda (the victim’s mother) and I truly believe that if a person experiencing this mental health crisis was white or a relative of the police officers, they would have responded completely different, with assistance and not 23 bullets,” said Paul LeRoux, of Huntington, Maryland, the father of Ryan LeRoux,

“Twenty three shots is a lot of shots to fire at somebody that is essentially sitting at the drive-thru,” he said.

The suit names as defendants Montgomery County and the four officers who opened fire. The wrongful death lawsuit does not specify the amount of damages but charges that police violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing Ryan LeRoux the benefits of services. The suit says he had ADHD, depression and schizophrenia — disabilities under the ADA.

“Ryan should be alive today because he was someone reaching out for help, not committing a crime, and he should be alive today because he was in a mental health crisis … reaching out for help,” said Kobie Flowers, attorney for the LeRoux family.

The lawsuit also alleges that Montgomery County police have a pattern and practice of using deadly force in encounters with people with mental health disabilities, pointing to the May 7, 2020 shooting death of Finan Berhe and the 2018 shooting death of Robert White, both of which occurred in Silver Spring.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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