A Tucson police officer has been fired after shooting a 61-year-old man in a motorized wheelchair nine times after he allegedly shoplifted at Walmart.
The fatal shooting of Richard Lee Richards took place after the alleged shoplifter brandished a knife on Monday.
In a statement about the shooting, Tucson Police Department Chief Chris Magnus said that a Walmart employee had contacted Officer Ryan Remington, who was off-duty and working a special assignment at the store, about the man allegedly stealing a toolbox.
“Shortly before six, a Walmart (1650 W. Valencia Rd.) employee contacted an off-duty Tucson Police Officer who was working a special duty assignment at Walmart. The Walmart employee told the officer that an individual in a motorized wheelchair, later identified as Richard Lee Richards (61), had stolen a toolbox,” the statement began.
“TPD Officer Ryan Remington, who’s been with the department four years, joined the Walmart employee in the parking lot and followed Mr. Richards while attempting to gain his cooperation,” the statement added. “According to the employee, he caught up with Mr. Richards outside as he fled the store and asked to see a receipt for the toolbox. Instead of providing the receipt, Mr. Richards brandished a knife and said, ‘Here’s your receipt.'”
Chief Magnus went on to explain that Officer Remington attempted to get Richards to surrender the knife, but he refused to comply. Instead, he continued riding his electric wheelchair through the Walmart and Lowes parking lots.
“According to the Walmart employee, Mr. Richards said, ‘If you want me to put down the knife, you’re going to have to shoot me,'” the chief’s statement continued. “As Mr. Richards approached the entrance to the garden section of Lowe’s, Officer Stephanie Taylor arrived to assist Officer Remington. Both officers were just a short distance behind Mr. Richards when they warned him not to enter the store.”
When Richards did not stop, Officer Remington fired nine rounds into him, striking his back and side.
Richards fell out of his wheelchair and landed on the floor, where officers rendered medical aid. Their efforts were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead a short time later.
The department has determined that the use of deadly force in this incident was a “clear violation of department policy” and “directly contradicts multiple aspects of our use of force training.”
“As a result, the department moved earlier today to terminate Officer Remington,” the statement said. “Please note that this entire incident is being reviewed by the Pima County Attorney’s Office. Because of this, we are not able to comment further. As the investigation moves forward, we will provide additional details as they become available.”
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING VIDEO IS GRAPHIC AND UNSETTLING.