Judges lower bail for some Pennsylvania protesters charged with rioting

Civil rights groups slammed the initial bail amounts as excessive

Judges on Thursday dramatically reduced bail for nine of the 13 people arrested for rioting during Sunday night protests in Lancaster, Pa.

District Court Judge Bruce Roth had set bail as high as $1 million for some of the protesters, which some civil rights groups called excessive.  Lt. Gov. John Fetterman went so far as to call the bail amounts "blatantly unconstitutional."

People chant during a protest at the scene of a police shooting on Laurel Street and Union Street in Lancaster city on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020.

People chant during a protest at the scene of a police shooting on Laurel Street and Union Street in Lancaster city on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. (LancasterOnline via AP)

Bail for two defendants was slashed from $1 million to $50,000 unsecured, clearing the way for their release pending trial, LNP reported.  One of them was Kathryn Patterson, 20, a Kappa Delta sorority sister and "ally" of a Black rights organization.

In other cases, defendants will still need to post bail ranging from $25,000 to $100,000, which means they may have to come up with a portion of it in cash to pay the bail bondsman.

The charges stem from unrest over the shooting by police of Ricardo Munoz, a 27-year-old Lancaster man who was wielding a knife after his sister sought to have him committed for mental health treatment.

Police body camera video that was made public shows Munoz brandishing the knife before the officer fatally shot him. Munoz had been awaiting trial on allegations he stabbed four people last year.

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The charging documents filed by police over the demonstrators' actions described them all as instigators, which defendants' family members and supporters have in some cases hotly denied.

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The protests Sunday night and early Monday were followed by rioting that caused damage to Lancaster's police headquarters and other downtown buildings. An arson fire blocked a downtown intersection.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.