Actions of Reading Police Ruled ‘Justified’ by Berks District Attorney

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, District Attorney John Adams released new details of the September 13th officer-involved shooting that occurred on Franklin Street in Reading.

Although the investigation is still on-going, Adams says the “shooting was a reasonable use of force justified under the law”, after interviewing witnesses at the scene and reviewing video footage of the incident, which was captured by multiple cameras, including Police body cameras.

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Detective’s say they intend to file criminal charges, including aggravated assault and robbery, against the suspect, Lakim J. Miller-Nock, a transgender woman, who prefers to be known as Roxanne Moore, once she is medically cleared and discharged from the hospital. She remains hospitalized in critical, but stable condition.

Adams also said he will release the full body camera footage to the suspect’s attorney. He continued by adding that the footage will not be released to the public at this time since the investigation is still active, and the footage could affect the Moore’s right to a fair and impartial trial.

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Details of the Incident

On September 13, 2020, at approximately 7am, Investigators say the suspect got into an argument with others inside an apartment on the 800 block of Franklin Street. She then started a small fire on the stove, which lead to an altercation with the other occupants. That altercation ended with the suspect forcefully stealing a handgun from Victim #1.

Video surveillance camera footage from the 800 block of Franklin Street shows the suspect leaving the apartment at about 7:05am and waving what appears to be a handgun in the air. She was wearing red shorts and what appears to be a white sports bra.

Berks County District Attorney’s Office

The footage shows the suspect walking toward South 8th and Franklin Streets and into the first block of South 8th Street. She was then seen pistol whipping a man, Victim #2, with the firearm. Then, the suspect chased Victim #2 to the corner of South 8th and Franklin Streets and was seen with her right arm fully extended and pointing what appears to be a handgun at the man. Victim #2 was able to avoid the suspect and flees.

As this confrontation was occurring, the Berks DES received a 911 call at 7:08am reporting, “Shots Fired.” The caller, Victim #3, told investigators that the suspect threatened to shoot and kill her.

Berks County District Attorney’s Office

Reading police officers arrived at the scene around 7:11 a.m. Security footage showed the suspect looking up 8th Street and then running through the crosswalk with her left arm fully extended. She appeared to be pointing a gun up the street in the direction of an arriving marked police vehicle. The suspect continued to run up the sidewalk in the 800 block of Franklin Street, then stumbled and fell in front of 804 Franklin Street.

The officer, who has not been identified, drew his firearm as he exited his vehicle and ran toward the suspect in the 800 block of Franklin Street. At least one witness and the officer told investigators the suspect pointed the gun at the approaching officer.

Investigators say, in the officer’s body cam footage, the officer was heard commanding the suspect to drop the gun multiple times before firing. He then gave another command to drop the firearm before firing a second time. The officer gave yet another “Drop it” command as two other officers arrived on scene and also fired shots.

Berks County District Attorney’s Office

According to Detectives, once the officers realized the suspect was wounded, they ceased fire, moved toward her, yelled for her to put her hands up. The officers encountered the suspect lying in the street between two vehicles and found a handgun on the sidewalk within close proximity.

The officers requested EMS emergency response and began to administer “life-saving procedures”. Adam also stated that the suspect was conscious throughout and talking to the officers until EMS arrives.

The Investigation

Following the incident, Berks County Detectives responded to investigate, as is procedure with all officer-involved shootings in Berks County. Adams said the Investigative team conducted an exhaustive neighborhood canvass, including interviews with police officers, residents, motorists, and identified three victims.

Berks County District Attorney’s Office

The firearm recovered from the scene was a loaded Smith & Wesson, .38 caliber five-shot chrome revolver with a brown handle. The cylinder contained five cartridges, but the revolver had a safety mechanism engaged that could only be released with a separate key and therefore was incapable of being fired.

“We only learned after the fact, that the gun was not able to be fired” Adams stated at the press conference. The firearm uses a key to turn on and off the safety. As this is an internal feature of the weapon, Adams said there was no way for the suspect, Police, or anyone to know it was not able to fire. “We are just blessed that the gun was unable to be fired Sunday morning.” said Adams.

During the press conference, Adams also stated Moore has had a history with Police, including known metal health issues. “As early as a couple of weeks prior to the incident, Probation and Parole attempted to have this individual 302’d.”

“They [Probation and Parole] have been actively working with her, and have taken what I consider appropriate steps to obtain mental health treatment for her” Adams added.

In total, Adams said 16 shots were fired at the suspect from three different officers. He did not specify how many actually hit Moore. The officer’s who fired their weapons are on administrative leave. Adams stated that the return of the officers to active status is up to the Reading Police Department.

As the investigation is still on-going, Detectives ask that anyone with information or witnessed any of the events to contact the Berks County Detectives at 610-478-7171.

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