UPDATE 1/6/2022: Tucson police officer Ryan Remington was officially fired Jan. 5 after an internal administrative investigation.
“Mr. Remington has a right to appeal the department’s decision to the City of Tucson Civil Service Commission within 10-days,” a press release from the department said.
An off-duty Arizona cop working security for a Walmart store on Monday evening fatally shot a man in a wheelchair nine times in the back as he fled after being accused of shoplifting.
The officer, Ryan Remington, will now be fired from the Tucson Police Department as a result of the deadly shooting, police said Wednesday. Remington, a four-year veteran of the force, also faces possible charges in the fatal incident.
Police say that sometime before 6 p.m. Monday, Richard Lee Richards, 61, allegedly stole a toolbox from the Walmart and brandished a knife when an employee asked that he show a receipt for the item as he left the store.
“Here’s your receipt,” Richards allegedly told the employee as he flashed the knife.
After the exchange, Remington ordered Richards to stop and drop the knife, to which the man replied, “If you want me to put down the knife, you’re going to have to shoot me,” a Walmart employee told police.
The off-duty cop began to follow Richards into the store’s parking lot, although it’s unclear for how long. In disturbing video released to the public by police on Tuesday, Remington can be seen trailing Richards in parking lot surveillance video as he calls for police backup and tells the dispatcher that the man had pulled a knife on him.
In bodycam footage, recorded from the point of view of officer Stephanie Taylor, who arrived on the scene just moments before the shooting, the two cops approach Richards as he moves away from them into a Lowe’s hardware store across the street from Walmart. Remington tells Taylor that Richards has a knife, prompting the arriving officer to draw her weapon. As the two cops approach with their guns drawn, they command Richards to not go into the Lowe’s store.
“Stop now, you need to...” Taylor is heard saying on bodycam video before being interrupted by a hail of gunfire.
Richards slumps over almost immediately after the first two shots and eventually falls out of the wheelchair onto the pavement. Security cameras from the Lowe’s store show Remington handcuffing the man as he bleeds out in front of the store. Police tried to render aid, but Richards was declared dead shortly after the shooting.
"To be very clear, I am deeply disturbed and troubled by Officer Remington's actions,” Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus told reporters at a press conference Tuesday. “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."
Joe Watson, a Pima County Attorney’s Office spokesperson, told VICE News that a review of the shooting will get underway once they receive the evidence involved in the shooting. Tucson Mayor Regina Romero told the New York Times that the office has her full support in pursuing any charges in the matter.
Mike Storie, an attorney for the Tucson Police Officers Association who’s representing Remington, did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment but told the New York Times that his client tried repeatedly to deescalate the situation and had no other choice but to use deadly force when he did. He also told the outlet that Remington fired nine shots as a result of his training with the department.
“Officers are trained that if they perceive a serious and imminent deadly threat, they are to fire multiple times until they perceive the threat is removed,” he told the Times.
Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.