Lawsuit Against Montgomery County Police for the Shooting of Ryan LeRoux at a Gaithersburg McDonald’s in 2021 Draws Support From Department of Justice

The parents of Ryan LeRoux, who was shot and killed by police officers in July 2021, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Montgomery County Police. The attorneys for the family released a statement (available below) on Friday announcing support from The Disability Rights Section of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The lawsuit claims that LeRoux’s rights were violated under the Americans with Disabilities Act because he was suffering from a mental health crisis when he was shot, according to a Fox 5 report. The lawsuit also claims that MCPD has a history of using deadly force in cases that involve a mental health crisis and that the officers were poorly trained in handling these types of situations.

According to the initial MCPD press release, “a caller stated that a customer had ordered food and was refusing to pay or move his vehicle from the drive-through lane. A 6th District officer responded to the scene and approached a white Honda CRV parked in the drive-through lane. The 21-year-old male was the sole occupant of the vehicle, located in the driver’s seat.

The officer immediately observed a handgun on the front passenger seat and called for back-up. Additional officers arrived, secured the area and evacuated McDonald’s staff.  During the armed standoff, MCP officers attempted to deescalate the situation by negotiating with the driver for approximately thirty minutes. Circumstances that are still under investigation led to officers firing their weapons and the driver was shot.”

On July 27 2021, Montgomery County Chief of Police Marcus Jones held a press conference where 28 minutes of bodycam footage from the shooting was shown. On April 4, 2022, a grand jury declined to indict the Montgomery County police officers involved in the shooting.

Full statement from Brown Goldsyein & Levy, LLP: The Disability Rights Section of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division (Civil Rights Division) filed a Statement of Interest supporting the lawsuit against the Montgomery County Police (MCPD) for the death of Ryan LeRoux. Attorneys Kobie Flowers and Eve Hill filed the lawsuit on behalf of Ryan’s parents. Kobie and Eve are partners with Brown Goldstein & Levy, LLP (BGL). The lawsuit seeks to hold accountable Montgomery County and four of its police officers for the unnecessary July 2021 killing of Ryan at a McDonald’s drive-thru, while Ryan was suffering a mental health crisis.

Instead of trying to solve MCPD’s problem of killing black people suffering from mental health crises, as indicated in its own 2021 Use of Force statistics, MCPD doubled down by filing a Motion to Dismiss Ryan’s case. The Civil Rights Division, in its 18-page Statement of Interest, explained that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), MCPD must do more than simply dismiss Ryan’s case.

The Civil Rights Division stated, “Courts have also made clear that [the ADA] does not allow public entities to claim ignorance in the face of apparent signs of a person’s disability. . .” As Ryan’s lawsuit alleges, the MCPD knew or should have known of Ryan’s disability (i.e., his mental health crisis). Instead of protecting and serving Ryan, MCPD shot and killed him, in violation of the ADA. This case now continues with the Civil Rights Division and BGL on Ryan’s side.

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