By Holly Matkin and Christopher Berg
Tucson, AZ – A Tucson police officer was criminally charged Thursday for fatally shooting a suspect on a motorized scooter who pulled a knife on him while trying to enter a Lowe’s store.
Pima county Attorney Laura Conover announced Thursday that Tucson Police Department (TPD) Officer Ryan Remington, a five-year law enforcement veteran, would be charged with manslaughter in connection with shooting 61-year-old Richard Richards, according to The Arizona Republic.
The officer was fired from TPD on Jan. 5, according to KOLD.
“It has been a long and difficult past nine months for Mr. Richards’s family, but they are relieved that former Officer Ryan Remington has been indicted and will face the prospect of justice for the shooting and killing of Mr. Richards,” the Richards family attorney said, according to The Arizona Republic.
Remington’s attorney said that his client was looking forward to an unbiased jury considering the case.
The initial incident began at a Walmart store at approximately 6 p.m. on Nov. 29, 2021, when an employee notified Officer Remington that a suspect on a motorized scooter was stealing a toolbox from the business, KOLD reported.
Officer Remington, who was working an off-duty job as a security officer for Walmart, followed after the suspect and asked to see his receipt, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus told reporters shortly after the shooting.
That’s when the suspect, later identified as Richards, pulled out a knife, KOLD reported.
“Here’s your receipt,” he retorted as he wheeled out the door, apparently referring to the weapon.
The store employee later told investigators Richards warned them, “If you want me to put down the knife, you’re going to have to shoot me,” KOLD reported.
Walmart security cameras showed Officer Remington as he followed Richards across the parking lot, calmly radioing for additional units.
“I have a male suspect that just shoplifted in front of me,” Officer Remington told dispatch. “He pulled a knife on me.”
Tucson Police Officer Stephanie Taylor arrived at the scene just as the armed suspect began heading into the garden center of a Lowe’s store located near the Walmart.
“You need to stop,” Officer Remington told Richards as Officer Taylor ran up to them, bodycam footage showed. “Do not go into the store, sir!”
“He’s got his knife in his other hand,” Officer Remington warned Officer Taylor in the video.
Officer Taylor also ordered Richards to stop as she drew her weapon, the footage showed.
The suspect ignored them and was about to cross the threshold of the building when Officer Remington opened fire, striking him nine times.
Richards slumped forward on his scooter before falling onto the ground, where Officer Remington placed him in handcuffs.
The shooting was also captured by Lowe’s security camera.
Officer Remington radioed for medical assistance as soon as Richards was handcuffed, the footage showed.
The suspect died from his wounds at the scene, KOLD reported.
Chief Magnus announced during a press conference in the wake of the incident that he was “deeply disturbed and troubled” by the officer-involved shooting, which he classified as an excessive use of force.
The chief said he immediately moved to terminate Officer Remington’s employment, KVOA reported.
“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,” Chief Magnus declared at the time, according to KOLD.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero also blasted the officer, calling his actions “unconscionable and indefensible,” KOLD reported.
“It is moments like this that test our resolve to ensure justice and accountability,” Romero said. “We owe this to all Tucsonans. I ask our community to remain calm and be patient as investigations ensue.”
Officer Remington’s attorney, Mike Storie, said the surveillance and bodycam footage the police department released of the officer-involved shooting don’t tell the whole story, CBS News reported.
“These were cut and pasted videos that show about 20 percent of what actually happened last night,” Storie told the news outlet shortly after the fatal shooting.
He noted that Officer Remington was too close to Richards to safely deploy his Taser under the circumstances.
“Officer Remington said he perceived a threat to the female employee you see in the video,” Storie told KVOA in a statement. “He said he had no non-lethal options.”
Storie later told the Arizona Daily Star that some of Richards’ comments indicated he wanted to create a suicide-by-cop situation.
The suspect made comments such as “this is not going to end well, you people have taken everything from me in my life. The only way you are going to get this knife out of my hand is to shoot me,” Storie recounted.
The attorney sharply criticized Romero for allegedly jumping to conclusions about the officer-involved shooting.
“We are currently living in a climate where we have a very irresponsible mayor who comes out less than 24 hours after the incident and makes statements that are inflammatory,” Storie told the Arizona Daily Star.
Richards’ criminal history in Arizona dates back to at least 1981, according to Arizona Department of Corrections records.
He was sentenced to five years for burglary in that matter, as well as another two years for a separate burglary offense.
Richards committed an armed robbery in 1986 and was sentenced to 15 years.
He racked up another 10-year sentence in 2007 due to charges of attempting to commit first-degree murder, resisting arrest, and two counts of aggravated assault.
That case involved the attempted murder of a peace officer, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
Richards was found guilty of 42 disciplinary infractions between 1983 and 2016, according to Arizona Department of Corrections records.
He was released from prison in January of 2018.
Richards was sentenced on a federal charge of transporting illegal immigrants for profit in early 2020, KOLD reported.
He was initially placed on probation, but that was revoked in November of 2020 and he was sentenced to five months in prison, according to the news outlet.