x
Breaking News
More () »

Attorney says Tucson officer was trying to ‘deescalate’ before shooting, killing man in wheelchair

Tucson Police Officer’s Association attorney Mike Storie said Officer Ryan Remington didn’t have another option but to shoot Richard Lee Richards Monday evening.

TUCSON, Ariz. — The attorney for the Tucson Police Officer’s Association said Wednesday that an officer, who police say shot and killed a man in a wheelchair who had shoplifted from a Tucson Walmart, didn’t have another option. 

The Tucson Police Department has since moved to fire Officer Ryan Remington after the incident Monday night. 

Body camera footage shows the victim, Richard Lee Richards, was shot nine times. 

RELATED: Tucson police officer accused of fatally shooting man in wheelchair 9 times in the back

Video doesn’t show the full incident

Attorney Mike Storie said the video from the incident released by Tucson Police Department doesn’t show the full story of what happened Monday evening.

Tucson police said Remington was off-duty working security at a Walmart in Tucson Monday evening.

Police said Richards, who was 61 years old, had stolen a toolbox from Walmart and brandished a knife when an employee asked to see a receipt. Tucson Police Chief Chris Mangus claimed Richards said “here’s your receipt” as he showed the knife to the employee.

The employee called in Remington to help with the situation, police said.
In the video released by Tucson police, Remington is seen walking alongside Richards, who police said was in a motorized wheelchair, as he was rolling through the parking lot.

“He’s trying to talk this guy down and deescalate, that’s exactly what he’s trying to do,” Storie said.

Police said Richards keeps moving away from the Walmart toward a Lowe’s. Walmart and Lowe’s are not in the same parking lot, but are separated by a few businesses and a side street. However, the video does not show the entirety of Remington’s interactions with Richards between the two stores.

Storie said during the entirety of the interaction leading up to the final incident, Remington was working to deescalate the situation.

“The officer at no time knows, ‘Is it going to end that minute? Is the guy just going to say I’m done? Is he going to go to his car? Is the guy going to go home?’ No he doesn’t know,” Storie said.

Storie was critical of Tucson Mayor Regina Romero’s statement made Tuesday where she called Remington’s actions "indefensible."

Storie said because all of the facts had not been released, Romero’s statement would only ‘inflame the community.’

9 shots fired

Tucson police said Remington shot Richards nine times in the back and side as Richards went toward the Garden Center at Lowe’s.

Remington is heard on the video released by Tucson police telling Richards not to go into the store.

Storie said the concern became about the Lowe’s employee standing inside the garden center.

“By that time, tasing was not an option,” Storie said.

In a short press conference Tuesday, where Chief Chris Mangus did not take any questions, Mangus was critical of Remington’s actions.

“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 training,” Mangus said.

“I disagree,” Storie said when 12 News asked about Mangus’ characterization.

Storie recognized that Remington’s actions, specifically the number of times he shot Richards and his demeanor afterward may be "offensive" to some.

“Police business is messy at times,” Storie said.

Remington’s background

Tucson police said Remington has been with the department for four years, and did go through their academy where he would have received a psych evaluation.

Storie said Remington had been working the security detail assignment with Walmart while off duty for years.

When he was on duty, Tucson police told 12 News Remington was assigned to their Operations Division South.

While the department moved to fire Remington, Storie said if Remington’s termination does go through they’ll appeal it.

Richards’ has a decades-long criminal history

Tucson police said they are investigating whether Remington had ever previously encountered Richards. Storie said Remington had not interacted with Richards before.

Richards did have a criminal history in Arizona dating back to the 1980s.

Court records show Richards has been disabled since at least the late 90s, when he fell off the Chiricahua Mountains south of Willcox. However, court records noted he was able to drive a car.

In 1999, records show Richards was convicted of attempted murder when court paperwork showed he grabbed a police officer’s gun and shot it.

Arizona Department of Corrections records shows he had spent years in Arizona prisons for crimes.

Federal court paperwork also showed Richards pleaded guilty to smuggling three people into the US from Mexico in a car he was driving in 2019.

Up to Speed

Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12 News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.