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'I don’t want to see another Ryan' | Supporters of police shooting victim call for change in Montgomery County

Supporters believe local police must improve the response to mental health crisis incidents.

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Four months after 21-year-old Ryan LeRoux was shot and killed by Montgomery Couty police officers, his family members and supporters called for an overhaul to mental health crisis response on Sunday while also saying Police Chief Marcus Jones should be replaced.

LeRoux was shot and killed in early July outside of a Gaithersburg McDonald's after multiple officers responded to a call of a man who refused to pay or move his car in the drive-thru.

Body camera video released later that month shows a uniformed police officer approaching the car and reporting seeing LeRoux reclined in the front seat and a gun on the front passenger seat. 

In a slowed-down version of one portion of the video, LeRoux leans forward and appears to be pointing at a dark object. Footage from the camera inside the McDonald's shows the back of LeRoux's body, where he leans back with his arm raised. 

That's when the four officers shoot at the car, which can be seen from multiple camera angles in MCPD's full video online.

On Sunday, his father and others gathered at Johnson's Local Park in Gaithersburg to call for change.

"Coming out to an event like this is difficult. It just opens wounds that you’re trying to heal," said Paul LeRoux, Ryan's father. "I’m in it because I don’t want to see another Ryan.”

The Silver Spring Justice Coalition organized the rally.

In a speech to the crowd, co-chairman Bob Veiga said Montgomery County should improve its use-of-force policy and add more mental health crisis units to its emergency squad.

"People who have mental health crisis should not be victims of gun violence by police," he said, before focusing on LeRoux's case. "They could’ve saved a life rather than taking a life.” 

People who attended the rally held signs for LeRoux and other victims of police shootings. Supporters voiced a need to hold officers who shoot someone more accountable for their actions. Veiga and others repeated a call for Police Chief Marcus Jones to be replaced to help overhaul the police force. 

"You've got to have effective leadership and somebody who’s going to step up and say this is wrong," he said. "We can make difference but police don’t want to seek to make that difference.”

LeRoux's family told WUSA9 on Sunday that the case is currently being reviewed by Howard County officials.

While the family waits for answers, Paul LeRoux said making improvements to mental health response could lead to far fewer people dying. 

"These counties, these police forces need to know that there is a mental health crisis especially with COVID," he said. "I’d like to see the laws changed in some way and at least see the police follow the laws so we don’t have another repeat of Ryan. They could’ve deescalated that. They could’ve tended to him and that never had to happen.” 

Later in the afternoon, supporters rallied outside the same McDonald's where LeRoux was shot and killed in July.

Moving forward, Paul LeRoux hoped the county would hear their calls for change.

"You wouldn’t think you’d have this systemic problem but it exists," he said. "It’s time for people to wake up and make [a] change.”

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