Tucson officer fired after fatally shooting man in motorized wheelchair 9 times from behind

Julie Luchetta
Arizona Republic

The Tucson Police Department is firing one of its officers who fatally shot a man in a mobility scooter while confronting him for alleged shoplifting.

Shocking videos of the Monday shooting from Lowe's security cameras show 61-year-old Richard Lee Richards entering the store in a motorized wheelchair, followed by two officers with their guns drawn a few feet behind him.

Body-worn camera footage shows one officer, later identified as Officer Ryan Remington, firing his gun nine times into Richards' back and side. 

Richards was facing away from the officers when he was struck and is seen immediately falling out of his chair. Remington then rushes toward him and handcuffs the man as he remains crumpled on the ground.

Richards was pronounced dead shortly afterward. 

What we know about the shooting

Shortly before 6 p.m. Monday, a Walmart employee reported Richards was suspected of shoplifting a toolbox, Tucson police Chief Chris Magnus explained at a news conference on Tuesday. Remington, working off-duty as security at Walmart, responded. 

According to the employee, when asked to show a receipt, Richards pulled out a knife and said, "Here's your receipt." Richards, in his motorized wheelchair, then headed toward the Lowe's store across the parking lot near Valencia Road and Oak Tree Drive in south Tucson, Magnus said. 

Remington followed Richards around the parking lot and can be seen on video calling for backup because Richards "pulled a knife on me."

Officer Stephanie Taylor responded, arriving at the scene as Remington was approaching Richards near the Lowe's entrance. 

Footage from her body-worn camera shows her run out of her vehicle toward Richards. 

"You need to stop," someone is heard saying, and then, "He's got his knife in his other hand."

As Remington says, "Do not go to the store, sir," Taylor draws her gun, too. 

"Stop now. You need to—" she starts saying but is interrupted by Remington firing his gun. 

Attorney for officer: He 'had no non-lethal options'

On Tuesday, Tucson police began the process of firing Remington, who has been with the department for four years, Magnus said. 

It is rare for an officer to be fired or face criminal charges for using force against someone, and almost unheard of for an officer to be fired so soon after.

"To be very clear, I am deeply disturbed and troubled by Officer 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 and training," Magnus said. 

The Pima County Attorney's Office is reviewing the fatal shooting for possible criminal charges against the officer.

Tucson attorney Mike Storie, who is representing Remington, said in a statement that his client “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.

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said Remington’s actions were “unconscionable and indefensible” and the County Attorney’s Office has her full support as it proceeds with its investigation.

The shooting happened a day after Tucson police announced they were investigating another incident involving an off-duty officer who restrained two women to the ground. 

The Associated Press contributed to this article. 

Reach breaking news reporter Julie Luchetta at jluchetta@arizonarepublic.com.

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