An Arizona police officer was fired Wednesday following an investigation into the fatal shooting of a man in a motorized wheelchair at a Lowe's home improvement store.
Ryan Remington was seen on body camera and surveillance video shooting Richard Lee Richards, 61, nine times during a suspected theft in November. He was formally terminated from the Tucson Police Department after an internal administrative investigation but has 10 days to appeal the decision.
"Because of legally required due process, no additional information may be provided until the appeal process and any subsequent proceedings have been completed," the department said in a news release.
The Tucson Police Officers Association, which is representing Remington, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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.
In footage previously released by the police department, two officers were seen following Richards, 61, and warning him not to go inside 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 said.
Seconds later, Remington fired at the man, who then slumped out of the motorized scooter's chair. Richards was pronounced dead at the scene.
Prior to the shooting, a Walmart employee told Remington that a man in a motorized wheelchair had stolen a toolbox, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said after the shooting. According to Magnus, Remington and the employee went to the parking lot and asked to see Richards' receipt, and the Walmart employee said Richards pulled out a knife instead.
Magnus said that Remington then followed Richards to the adjacent Lowe's parking lot and asked him to put down the knife.
“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.
Magnus added that he was "deeply disturbed" by 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.
The Pima County Attorney’s Office is also investigating the shooting.