PHOENIX — An Arizona police officer was officially fired on Wednesday after the department completed its internal investigation into the shooting that killed 61-year-old Richard Lee Richards in November, the Tucson Police Department announced in a news release.
Surveillance video of the Nov. 29 shooting shows Richards, 61, entering a Lowe’s in a wheelchair before an officer, later identified as Ryan Remington, fires his gun nine times at Richards’ back and side. Richards was pronounced dead shortly afterward.
Before Richards entered the Lowe’s, a Walmart employee had reported Richards was suspected of shoplifting a toolbox, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said at a news conference. When asked to show a receipt, the Walmart employee told police that Richards pulled out a knife and said, “Here’s your receipt.”
Remington was working off-duty as security at Walmart and has been with the department for four years. Magnus said that Remington would be fired.
The following day, the police department began the process of firing Remington. He was officially fired on Wednesday, more than a month later and a day shy of his fifth anniversary with the department.
According to the news release, Remington could appeal the department’s decision within 10 days, though it’s unclear if he would. Remington’s attorney, Mike Storie, was not immediately available to comment.
The Pima County Attorney’s Office was reviewing the fatal shooting for possible criminal charges against the officer.
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A Walmart employee shortly after 6 p.m. on Nov. 29 reported Richards was suspected of shoplifting a toolbox, officials previously said. Remington, working off-duty as security at Walmart, responded.
According to the employee, when asked to show a receipt, Richards pulled out a knife and said, “Here’s your receipt.” Richards, in his motorized wheelchair, then headed toward the Lowe’s store across the parking lot in south Tucson, Arizona, officials said.
Remington followed Richards around the parking lot and can be seen on video calling for backup because Richards “pulled a knife on me.”
Officer Stephanie Taylor responded, arriving at the scene as Remington was approaching Richards near the Lowe’s entrance.
Footage from her body-worn camera shows her running out of her vehicle toward Richards. “You need to stop,” someone is heard saying, and then, “He’s got his knife in his other hand.”
As Remington says, “Do not go to the store, sir,” Taylor draws her gun, too.
Video captured by Lowe’s security cameras show Richards entering the store in a wheelchair followed by the two officers with their guns drawn a few feet behind him.
“Stop now. You need to —” Taylor begins saying but is interrupted by Remington firing his gun.
Richards was facing away from the officers when Remington fired his gun nine times at Richards’ back and side, body camera footage shows.
Richards immediately fell out of the wheelchair as Remington rushed toward him and handcuffed the man, who remained crumpled on the ground.
Remington had been with the Tucson Police Department for four years. In a statement, Storie that Remington “had no nonlethal options.”
“He did have a Taser, but in his mind, he couldn’t use it because he didn’t feel he had the proper spread to deploy it, with the wheelchair between him and Richards,” Storie said.
“To be very clear, I am deeply disturbed and troubled by officer Remington’s actions,” Magnus said at a news conference after the shooting. “His use of deadly force in this incident is a clear violation of department policy and directly contradicts multiple aspects of our use of force and training.”
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said Remington’s actions were “unconscionable and indefensible” and the county attorney’s office has her support as it proceeds with its investigation.
The shooting happened a day after Tucson police announced it was investigating another incident involving an off-duty officer who restrained two women on the ground outside a restaurant.
Contributing: Julie Luchetta, Arizona Republic
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