No charges for 4 Montgomery Co. officers in fatal shooting of man at McDonald’s drive-thru

Four Montgomery County police officers who shot and killed a man at a McDonald’s drive-thru last summer will not be charged.

An investigation by the Howard County state’s attorney into the killing of Ryan LeRoux by those officers has finished, and a grand jury found that the shooting was “legally justified” under the circumstances, according to a statement from the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.

On July 17, police arrived at the restaurant on Flower Hill Way in Gaithersburg in response to a report that a person had not paid for his order and was refusing to leave the drive-thru line. A police officer went over to the Gaithersburg man’s vehicle and found him fully reclined in the driver’s seat with headphones on and both his hands on his cellphone.

The officer then got on the radio and said that he saw a gun on the front passenger seat of LeRoux’s vehicle. The officer asked the 21-year-old several times to open the passenger-side door, but he did not.

Other officers arrived and the car was identified as belonging to LeRoux. Investigators said that just after 10:45 p.m., a review of body camera footage shows an officer saying: “He just reached … I don’t know what he’s reaching for.” That officer then ducked and shouted, “He’s raised the gun!”

The body camera footage on that officer does not show LeRoux raising the gun due to a blocked view, but a view from another officer’s body camera shows LeRoux pointing something toward police briefly.

A police captain who arrived at the scene minutes later was told that LeRoux allegedly picked up the gun and pointed it, but that “nobody knows where he put the gun afterward.” The captain then inquired about available crisis negotiators who can respond. A crisis negotiator was en route, the news release said.

Police tried to call LeRoux’s cellphone, leaving a message for him to get in touch with police, the investigation showed. Police made contact with LeRoux on his phone, it said, but he hung up on them.

Just after 11 p.m., body camera footage shows LeRoux appearing to slightly lean toward the front passenger seat and the shadow of his right arm appears to raise up on the rear back seat behind the driver’s seat. That’s when shots where fired.

“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 Glock .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun was found next to LeRoux’s body. It had five rounds in the magazine.

Montgomery County crime lab technicians who processed LeRoux’s vehicle after the shooting found an empty gun magazine on the front-passenger seat, paperwork regarding the purchase of the gun found on LeRoux, and an empty prescription bottle for an antipsychotic in his name.

The investigation also found that several days before the shooting, LeRoux was arrested for refusing to leave a hotel in Germantown after it was past his checkout time.

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.

The four officers who fired their weapon that struck LeRoux have a combined 58 years of police experience, and had been placed on leave following the shooting. They have since returned to full-time, active duty status and there will be an internal investigation, police said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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