Tucson, AZ – A veteran Tucson police officer who fatally shot a convicted felon after the suspect pulled a knife on him while trying to enter a Lowe’s store in a motorized scooter Monday will be fired, the Tucson police chief announced Tuesday.
The incident began at a nearby Walmart store at approximately 6 p.m. on Nov. 29, when an employee notified Tucson Police Officer Ryan 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 on Tuesday.
That’s when the suspect, later identified as 61-year-od Richard 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 multiple 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 the press conference Tuesday 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 moved to terminate Officer Remington’s employment Tuesday, 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, according to KOLD.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero also blasted the four-year department veteran, 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.”
The Pima County Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case, KOLD reported.
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% of what actually happened last night,” Storie told the news outlet.
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.”
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.
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.