An Arizona police department moved to fire an officer who was captured on video shooting a man in a wheelchair nine times and killing him, the chief said.
Body camera and surveillance footage of the incident, released by the Tucson Police Department, shows two officers following the man toward a Lowe's home improvement store. They could be heard in the body camera footage warning him to stop and not go into the store.
“You need to stop. He’s got his knife in his other hand. Do not go to the store, sir. Stop now, you need to stop,” the officers are heard saying seconds before Officer Ryan Remington fired at the man, who then slumped out of the chair.
One of the officers could be seen running over to the man, identified as Richard Lee Richards, 61, and trying to handcuff him, according to the surveillance video from the store.
The officers tried to provide medical care, but Richards was pronounced dead on the scene, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said. He was struck by bullets in the back and the side.
“To be very clear, I am deeply disturbed and troubled by Officer Remington’s actions. His use of deadly force in this instance is a clear violation of department policy and directly contradicts multiple aspects of our use of force and training,” Magnus said during a news conference Tuesday.
The Pima County Attorney’s Office is investigating the incident, and the Tucson Police Department has “moved” to fire Remington, Magnus said.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said the county attorney’s office has her full support. In a statement, she called Remington’s actions “unconscionable and indefensible.”
Magnus said that before the shooting, a Walmart employee had told Remington that a man in a motorized wheelchair had stolen a toolbox.
Remington and the employee followed Richards into the parking lot, and the employee asked him to show the receipt, Magnus said. Instead, the employee told police, Richards pulled out a knife and said, “Here’s your receipt.”
Remington asked Richards to surrender the knife, but ended up following him through the Walmart and Lowe's parking lots.
“According to the Walmart employee, Mr. Richards said, ‘If you want me to put down the knife, you’re going to have to shoot me,’” Magnus said.
Mike Storie, Remington’s attorney, said his client “perceived a threat” to a Lowe's employee, who is briefly seen in the surveillance video standing at the entrance to the store.
“He said he had no non-lethal options. 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 in a statement to NBC affiliate KVOA.