Tucson Police Fire Officer; Video Shows Fatal Shooting of Shoplifting Suspect in Wheelchair

The Tucson Police Department has fired Officer Ryan Remington in the fatal shooting of a shoplifting suspect in a motorized wheelchair, as the incident was captured on security and police body cameras, police said.

The shooting occurred at the Midvale Park Shopping Center on Monday night. The deceased man, 61-year-old Richard Lee Richards, was suspected of stealing a toolbox from a Walmart in Tucson, police said.

When a Walmart loss prevention employee followed Richards outside of the store and asked him for his toolbox receipt, Richards reportedly pulled out a knife and said, "Here's my receipt," police said. The employee then contacted police.

Tuscon police fire officer shooting wheelchair video
The Tucson Police Department has fired an officer in the fatal shooting of a shoplifting suspect in a wheelchair, police said. In this photo illustration, a man uses a wheelchair inside a building. vadimguzhva/Getty

Video footage of a body camera worn by Officer Stephanie Taylor shows her and Remington confronting Richards as he drives his chair towards the entrance of a nearby home improvement store.

In the police video, an officer tells Richards, "Do not go into the store, sir." When Richards ignores the warning, Taylor says, "Stop now. You need to—." Then, Remington shoots Richards nine times in the back and side at close range, according to the police video.

Richards' body then slumps forward and falls out of his motorized wheelchair, right in front of the store entrance. A police officer then starts requesting medical assistance on the radio as Remington examines Richards' body, as if to handcuff him. Richards died at the scene.

"[Remington's] 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," Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said at a Wednesday news conference, according to the Associated Press.

Magnus added that he was "deeply disturbed and troubled" by the officer's actions.

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said she gave the Pima County Attorney's Office its full support as it investigates the shooting and considers whether to press criminal charges against Remington, who had patrolled the aforementioned shopping center on "special duty assignment, basically a security detail," Magnus said.

Remington's lawyer, Mike Storie, argued that Remington had no "non-lethal options" when engaging Richards.

"He did have a taser, but in his mind, he couldn't use it because he didn't feel he had the proper spread to deploy it, with the wheelchair between him and Richards," Storie said.

Remington had served on the police force for four years.

Newsweek contacted the Tucson Police Department for comment.

Correction (12/1/2021, 4:45 p.m.): A previous version of this article mistakenly referred to Romero in Storie's quote about Remington.