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Ryan LeRoux's family files wrongful death lawsuit against Montgomery Co. officers who shot him to death

A Howard County grand jury declined to indict the four officers involved in his death.

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Ryan LeRoux's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Montgomery County after a grand jury failed to indict the officers responsible for his shooting death.

LeRoux,21, was shot to death by Montgomery County Police in July 2021 after refusing to leave a Gaithersburg McDonald's drive-thru and pay for his food. On March 31, a Howard County grand jury said it will not charge the four officers responsible for shooting LeRoux. 

Howard and Montgomery counties have a partnership where if one sees a police shooting, the other investigates.

Leroux's family says just before he was killed he had lost a grandparent, his girlfriend, his job and his home which made his schizophrenia, depression, and ADHD even worse. And that is where the basis for their lawsuit begins.

"Ryan should be alive today because he was someone reaching out for help, not committing a crime," said the family's attorney Kobie Flowers. 

Tuesday, Leroux's family sued Montgomery County, not for excessive force, but on the grounds that he was experiencing a mental health crisis and under the Americans with Disabilities Act police should have tried to help him instead of treating him like a threat. 

"I truly believe if the person experiencing this mental health crisis was white or a relative of the police officers they would have responded completely different - with assistance, not 23, three bullets," Leroux's father Paul said.

The family said they want to hold MCPD accountable since they won't face criminal charges.

RELATED: Montgomery Co. officers who shot, killed a 21-year-old in a McDonald's parking lot won't be charged

The shooting happened in July 2021, when employees at a Gaithersburg McDonald's called police for a man "trespassing," saying he wouldn't pay for his food or leave the drive-thru.

More than an hour later, Montgomery County Police officers responded. One noticed a gun in the front seat next to Ryan LeRoux and immediately pulled out his gun and called for backup.

Over the next 30 minutes, close to 20 officers worked to get LeRoux out of the car, guns drawn.

Seconds before the crisis intervention team arrived, officers say they saw LeRoux lean forward toward the gun and lift a dark object in his right hand. Four officers shot at him, killing him.

“They could have de-escalated that," Paul LeRoux said in October 2021. "They could have tended to him, and that never had to happen.”

Now, the LeRoux family is hoping a Maryland district court will grant them a jury trial as they file a wrongful death suit against the county and the individual officers.

The family's main claims are that Ryan was clearly undergoing a mental health crisis and MCPD escalated the situation and were negligent in their response.

“The loss of our son Ryan has been completely devastating and is causing a tremendous amount of stress," his mom, Rhonda LeRoux said in July. "We can't eat, sleep or rest. We feel numb, empty inside.”

In the 22-page lawsuit, the family also alleges that MCPD has a history of using deadly force in encounters with people in a mental health crisis – and that their officers don’t receive proper training in how to handle these situations.

Tuesday evening after the family spoke about the suit, WUSA9 has reached out to the Montgomery County Police Department for comment. This story will be updated if the department responds.

Watch: Family of Ryan LeRoux speak after filing lawsuit

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