Sturla releases statement on Sunday’s police shooting

LANCASTER, Sept. 15 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, released the following statement about Sunday’s police shooting in Lancaster:

“As our community is reeling from the events of this past Sunday, we should keep a few things in mind while we process and attempt to heal from this tragedy. The grief and pain of Ricardo Munoz’s family remains foremost in our thoughts. Their lives are irreversibly altered, and their suffering must not go unacknowledged.

“Although the details of this shooting are still unfolding, we know that this young man struggled for much of his life with mental illness. This, like too many other similar incidents, lays bare the imperative for developing ways of recognizing and responding in real-time to individual mental health crises. Programs like Lancaster’s Crisis Intervention exist precisely for these types of occurrences, but they currently lack the funding to respond safely and effectively.

“As House Democratic Policy Committee chairman, I have held six public hearings this year on police reform, including a hearing on Aug. 13 that dealt specifically with the police approach to mental health calls. These hearings have shown the delicate balance that law enforcement has in protecting themselves and our community while handling possible suspects in a safe manner. Testimonies and videos are at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee/hearingmaterials

“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.”

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