A man shot and killed by police outside a Maryland McDonald’s was identified Monday as 20-year-old Ryan LeRoux, and the four officers involved in the incident have since been placed on administrative leave as investigators say video from the scene is not clear enough to determine what happened.
Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said at a press conference Monday officers responded to a McDonald’s in Gaithersburg Friday night to a call about a customer who refused to pay or remove his vehicle from the drive-thru. Officers who initially arrived at the scene saw a handgun in the front passenger seat and called for backup when LeRoux refused their commands to step out of the vehicle.
Police retreated and negotiated with LeRoux for about 30 minutes, as a sergeant on the scene was able to speak with him on his cell phone, Jones said. But LeRoux was still uncooperative, according to the chief. A crisis negotiator was requested – but did not arrive before LeRoux was ultimately shot.
A loaded Glock handgun was found on LeRoux’s lap inside his vehicle after the shooting, Jones said, but it’s not clear in the dark and grainy body camera footage reviewed by investigators so far whether LeRoux pointed the weapon at police before officers opened fire, Fox 5 DC reported.
"We are working to ensure all video footage is recovered from the scene," Jones said, adding that investigators are seeking additional video of the incident, including possibly some from surveillance cameras. "We’re hoping that we’re able to see more."
Jones said there is no evidence indicating that LeRoux fired at the officers. Alcohol was also found inside the car.
Jones identified the officers currently on administrative leave in connection to the incident as Sara Vaughn, Brooks Inman, John Cerny and Romand Schmuck. The four have not yet submitted written statements to investigators, as they have 10 days to do so under Maryland state law.
"I want to make clear their body-worn cameras are a helpful tool. But they do not replace the human eye in what the officers actually saw," Jones said at the press conference, according to WTOP. "We are working to ensure all video footage is recovered from the scene."
The Montgomery County Police Department’s major crimes division, as well as the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office, are separately conducting investigations into the incident.
"No one would’ve expected this outcome from the way the video started," Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said at the press conference, according to WJLA, as he describing a "static and peaceful" conversation heard on video from the incident before the situation escalated minutes later. "It makes it all the more tragic. I want to assure everybody that this will be fully investigated."
Elrich, as well as LeRoux’s father, Paul LeRoux, were privately shown body-camera footage from the scene, but no video has been released.
Paul LeRoux told the Washington Post that his son might still be alive if police used better de-escalation techniques, arguing that the video showed clear signs that his son could have been experiencing a mental health crisis. The father said the younger LeRoux had recently lost his job, was living out of his car, and was grieving the loss of his grandmother.
Paul LeRoux said his son legally purchased the gun for personal protection. After he was shown video of the incident, the father separately told WRC-TV that he believes his son might have only raised his hands – and not his handgun before officers opened fire.
A protest was organized by Silver Spring Justice Coalition outside the press conference Monday.