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Tucson cop fired after shooting man in wheelchair 9 times in the back

Chief Magnus 'deeply disturbed & troubled' by violations of Tucson's use-of-force policy; Officer faces criminal investigation

A Tucson police officer has been fired after he shot a man in a wheelchair at least nine times in the back Monday evening, killing him as officers responded to a report of a theft of a toolbox by a man armed with a knife.

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said he was "deeply disturbed and troubled" by the actions of Officer Ryan Remington, who was fired on Tuesday, and faces a criminal investigation in the fatal shooting.

During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Magnus said that Remington, a TPD officer for the last four years, violated "multiple aspects" of the department's use-of-force policy when he fired his weapon at Richard Lee Richards, 61.

Richards, who was riding in an electric mobility chair, was hit multiple times in the back as he attempted to enter a Lowe's home improvement store on the South Side, ignoring the officers' commands.

"His use of deadly force in this incident was a clear violation of department policy," said Magnus. "As a result the department moved earlier today to terminate Officer Remington," he said.

In a statement, Mayor Regina Romero called the Remington's actions "unconscionable and indefensible."

The incident started at a Walmart at 1650 W. Valencia Rd. around 6 p.m. when Richards stole a toolbox from the store, Magnus said. A Walmart employee reportedly tried to stop Richards and asked for a receipt, and Richards brandished a knife, telling the worker, "Here's your receipt," Magnus said.

Before videos of the incident were shown to reporters, Magnus warned that "What you're about to see is disturbing."

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The two-minute video, which includes security camera footage from the parking lot and the home improvement store, as well as video from Remington's body-worn camera, shows the incident.

In the video, Remington, who was working a "special duty assignment" as a security guard, joined the Walmart employees, and began walking behind Richards through a parking lot. Video of the incident from security cameras shown by Magnus on Tuesday showed Remington walking between cars, trailing Richards, along with TPD Officer Stephanie Taylor, who responded to the Walmart incident.

At one point, according to the Walmart employee, Richards said, "If you want me to put down the knife, you’re going to have to shoot me," a news release from Magnus said Tuesday night.

Body-camera video showed that the two officers were following closely behind Richards. As he got close to the garden entrance of the Lowe's store, across the street and parking lots from the Walmart at 1800 W. Valencia Rd., officers again ordered him to stop.

As Richards headed into the Lowe's in his powered wheelchair, the two officers began to run after him, telling him to halt.

He ignored their order.

As recorded in the videos, Remington warned Taylor, the other officer, that "He's got a knife in his other hand."

"Do not go into the store, sir," said Taylor. "Stop now, you need to…."

At that moment, Remington pulled out his sidearm and fired a salvo of shots, followed by one last shot.

The man in the wheelchair slumped over, and then crumpled to his left, onto the ground.

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As Taylor went to check on the injured man, Remington said he'll get his "I-FAK," a term for a medical kit, and began to run.

Taylor grabbed Richards' arms and began handcuffing him, the video showed.

Richards was declared dead at the scene, Magnus said.

Magnus told reporters that the incident was referred to the Pima County Attorney's Office, which will investigate and potentially prosecute the fired police officer.

"Because of this we are not able to comment any further," Magnus said. "As this investigation moves forward, we will provide additional details."

Pima County Attorney Laura Conover told TucsonSentinel.com that "the People's Office holds sacred the impartial review of the facts of every incident referred to us."

"Once we receive the evidence in this incident, we will conduct such a review," she said.

City officials have begun the administrative process to terminate Remington from the department, the chief said.

Remington was the only officer who fired a weapon during the incident, authorities said.

"The actions of the officer involved in last night’s deadly shooting are unconscionable and indefensible," said Mayor Romero in a statement. "The County Attorney’s Office has my full support as they proceed with their investigation. It is moments like this that test our resolve to ensure justice and accountability."

"We owe this to all Tucsonans. I ask our community to remain calm and be patient as investigations ensue," Romero said.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

TPD chief Chris Magnus during a press conference on Tuesday.