Body camera videos released Tuesday show a 21-year-old Black man moving inside a parked car, apparently sitting up from a reclining position, moments before police shot and killed him outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Maryland.
At a media briefing, Montgomery County police Chief Marcus Jones narrated a 28-minute-long compilation of bodycam video excerpts and a recorded phone call between police and the driver, Ryan LeRoux, before the July 16 shooting in Gaithersburg. But the chief didn’t express any opinion about whether the Friday night shooting was justified.
Jones, who didn’t take any questions from reporters, said police recovered a gun from LeRoux’s lap after four officers opened fire on him. The chief didn’t say whether investigators believe LeRoux raised a weapon or posed a threat to police during a standoff that lasted approximately 30 minutes.
Later Tuesday, LeRoux’s mother told reporters that her son was depressed, had lost his job and girlfriend, and was grieving the death of his grandmother last month. Rhonda LeRoux also said her son was living out of his car and had legally purchased a gun to protect himself.
“I wouldn’t wish this pain on any parent,” she said.
Rhonda LeRoux said the “handpicked” videos shown by police don’t show her son raising his hand with a gun or pointing it at officers.
“Ryan was sitting inside his car for over an hour. Clearly, the Montgomery County police failed to deescalate the situation,” she said. “Their way of resolving this situation was just to unload a barrage of 24 bullets into him while he’s sitting in his car.”
Police haven’t specified how many shots were fired by the officers.
Jones showed segments of videos that captured the shooting from the perspective of an officer’s body camera and a body camera that officers had placed in a drive-thru window closer to LeRoux’s sport utility vehicle.
“Their cameras do not replace the human eye and what the officers saw that evening,” Jones said.
An officer responded to a trespassing call that LeRoux had ordered food , refused to pay for it and wouldn’t move his SUV from the drive-thru lane, according to police. The officer immediately radioed that he saw a gun on the front passenger seat and repeatedly ordered LeRoux at gunpoint to raise his hands and slowly unlock one of his doors with his left hand.
“He’s awake, but he’s not listening to my commands,” the officer said over his radio. “He’s got his hands on his phone. The gun is on the passenger seat. Get cover!”
Officers taking cover behind a shield approached LeRoux’s SUV and placed “stop sticks” in front of the vehicle. Police placed the camera in the drive-thru window to get a better vantage point of the gun in his car, Jones said.
A woman from the police department’s emergency command center spoke to LeRoux over his cellphone. LeRoux said he saw the officers and complied with their commands to raise his hands.
“I can hear them just fine,” he said.
“We’re just trying to help you here,” the woman told LeRoux, asking him to extend his hands out a window.
Jones said the officers didn’t see LeRoux’s hands up or out the window.
A police sergeant later called LeRoux.
“What’s going on, man?” the sergeant asked. “Hello? He just hung up on me.”
The video from the drive-thru window shows LeRoux sit up from a reclining position moments before gunfire erupted, shattering the window.
“He’s up!” at least two officers shouted just before the shooting.
A crisis negotiator was en route to the scene but didn’t arrive before the shooting, Jones said.
LeRoux died at a hospital. A loaded Glock 47 was recovered from the scene, according to the chief.
The four officers involved were placed on administrative leave, a standard procedure after a shooting. All four officers are white, and LeRoux was Black, police department spokeswoman Shiera Goff said.
“The continued killing and murder of young Black men in this county has to stop. It’s unacceptable,” said Racial Justice Now co-founder Zakiya Sankara-Jabar.
Her Montgomery County-based group belongs to the grassroots Silver Spring Justice Coalition, formed after a Montgomery County police officer fatally shot Robert White, an unarmed Black man, in June 2018. Prosecutors cleared the officer who shot White, saying bodycam footage shows White assaulting the officer.
Sankara-Jabar said the coalition is calling for the police chief’s resignation.
“It seems to me that this chief does not have control of this department at all,” she said. “He continues to make excuses for these officers under his leadership.”
The Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office will review LeRoux’s shooting under an agreement with its counterpart in neighboring Montgomery County.