GAITHERSBURG

Video Shows Moments Before Montgomery Police Killed Man at McDonald's

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Montgomery County police released body camera footage Tuesday showing the moments before officers fatally shot a man in the drive-thru lane of a McDonald’s in Gaithersburg earlier this month. 

Ryan Leroux was killed in the shooting. He was 21. 

Footage released at a news conference by Chief of Police Marcus Jones shows about 30 minutes of negotiation between officers and Leroux. Officials surrounded Leroux’s SUV and spoke with him through the windows and by phone.

“He’s on his phone, looking at me, not listening. The gun is right on the passenger seat,” an officer can be heard saying after repeatedly ordering Leroux to put up his hands. 

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Police responded to the McDonald’s on Flower Hill Way after receiving a report at about 9:15 p.m. July 16 that a man in a white Honda CRV ordered food but refused to pay or move his vehicle. When they arrived, they found Leroux in the driver’s seat with a gun and liquor alongside him, police said. 

Officers can be heard speaking to Leroux on portions of body camera footage presented by the police chief. On audio from a call with the emergency communications center, Leroux can be heard telling a woman his hands are up, though they were not, according to the chief. 

Video shot from a distance shows motion in the SUV. Then several shots can be heard. 

Officers provided medical treatment, and medics took Leroux to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. 

A loaded Glock 47 was recovered from the scene, according to the chief.

Jones didn't express any opinion about whether the Friday night shooting was justified. The chief, 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 the half-hour standoff.

Leroux’s family questioned the department. His father, Paul Leroux, told News4 his son had a mental health issue and had lost his job, grandmother and longtime girlfriend. He was living out of his SUV and had recently bought a gun for protection.

Paul Leroux said on July 19 that he reviewed some of the police video and didn’t see a gun in his son’s hand.

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"They all unload on him and he supposedly raised a handgun. If you want to know my perspective, he raised his hands. He just raised his hands up. There’s nothing they’ve been able to show or prove that he raised his handgun. Nothing. And then they just went crazy,” he said.

The Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office will review LeRoux's shooting under an agreement with its counterpart in neighboring Montgomery County.

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."

Police showed body camera footage to LeRoux's father, Paul, who said the video did not show his son picking up the gun or pointing it at police, according to the coalition.

“The police chief has said that he too is unable to confirm that Ryan was holding a gun and/or pointing it at officers. As such, the police chief has admitted he is unable to explain why Ryan was shot multiple times,” said the coalition's statement.

County Executive Marc Elrich also issued a statement after bodycam video of the shooting was released, saying residents may have questions about the incident, and so does he.

"I am trying to understand how an incident that began calmly turned violent so suddenly. I also want to determine whether there are tactical approaches that would minimize situations where officers must make split-second, life-or-death decisions," Elrich said. "We need a careful review of how this outcome might have been averted. My concern is that even if an event is deemed justifiable in that moment, it may not have been inevitable."

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story. 

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