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An Arizona police officer was fired Tuesday after fatally shooting a 61-year-old man in a motorized wheelchair suspected of stealing a toolbox from Walmart.
Police released multiple videos of the deadly encounter between Officer Ryan Remington, a four-year veteran with the Tucson police department, and the victim, Richard Lee Richards.
“To be very clear, I am deeply disturbed and troubled by Officer Remington’s actions,” Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said during a press conference. “His use of deadly force in this incident is a clear violation of department policy and directly contradicts multiple aspects of our use and training.”
Remington was working off-duty security at a shopping center on Monday evening when the incident occurred.
Richards was asked to show a receipt for the toolbox, allegedly pulled out a knife and said, “Here’s your receipt,” according to the Walmart employee.
Police said he then headed toward the Lowe’s store, across the parking lot near Valencia Road and Oak Tree Drive in south Tucson.
Remington followed Richards and can be seen on the video calling for backup and saying a “suspect pulled a knife on me.”
Police also shared body camera footage from another officer, Stephanie Taylor, who arrived as Remington was approaching Richards. She ran toward Richards.
Someone is heard saying: “You need to stop” and “He’s got a knife in his other hand.”
Remington told Richards, “Do not go into the store, sir.”’ Taylor drew her gun and ordered Richards to stop.
In one of the videos, Richards is seen entering a store, followed by two officers with their guns drawn.
Body cameras then capture Remington firing his gun nine times into Richards, hitting him in the back and the side. The officer handcuffed him as he fell out of the wheelchair and onto the ground.
Richards died a short time later.
Remington could yet face criminal charges. The Pima County Attorney’s Office is reviewing the fatal shooting to determine if charges should be filed.
Michael Storie, Remington’s attorney, told CNN that the videos released by police only tell half of the story. He said Richards left the officer no other choice but to use deadly force.
“In any of these types of things, if you cut and paste a video, it will not properly lay out the officer’s impressions and state of mind leading to a decision to employ force of any kind,” Storie said.
An attorney who has represented Richards recently told the New York Times that he has a long history of run-ins with the police. He was charged and convicted of attempted first-degree murder as a teenager, Brick P. Storz III told the Times.
Storz told the newspaper that Richards numerous physical challenges including a hip replacement operation that left him confined to a wheelchair.
He called the shooting “horrifying and over the top.”
“It was just so bizarre,” Stortz said. “I could understand how he could maybe be a problem, but you don’t shoot someone in the back nine times in a wheelchair."
“If you, did it, you’d be looking at more problems than you care to believe.”
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero called Remington’s actions “unconscionable and indefensible,” according to the New York Times.
Storie was displeased with the mayor’s comments, according to KOLD.
“What I find disgusting is the mayor now is not only trying to control the police department, but she is telling the county attorney that he should be indicted,” Storie said. “Why doesn’t she just stay in her office and let these things operate independently?”
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