Arizona police officer who fatally shot man in a wheelchair is fired

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Photograph: Lumigraphics/Getty Images

An Arizona police officer has been fired amid outrage over the killing of a suspected shoplifter who was in a motorized wheelchair and moving slowly away from officers when he was shot in the back multiple times.

Surveillance videos released by the police department showed Officer Ryan Remington the Tucson police department slowly walking behind 61-year old Richard Lee Richards through a parking lot outside a Walmart on Monday evening.

Richards had been accused of stealing a toolbox from Walmart and an employee contacted Remington, who was working a special duty assignment at the store. Richards brandished a knife at the employee at one point, police said.

“Do not go into the store, sir,” Remington can be heard yelling at Richards in police body-cam footage as Richards approached the entrance of a Lowe’s Home Improvement. As Richards continued to approach the entrance, Remington fired nine shots and hit Richard on the back and side.

Richards slumped forward and fell onto the ground in front of a flower stand and was then quickly handcuffed by Remington.

He was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Tucson’s police chief, Chris Magnus, said the Walmart employee approached Richards and asked him to show him a receipt. Richards responded by pulling out a knife and said: “Here’s your receipt.”

According to Magnus, Remington ordered Richards to stop and hand over the knife, to which the Walmart employee heard Richards say: “If you want me to put down the knife, you’re going to have to shoot me.”

Magnus condemned the shooting on Tuesday, saying: “His use of deadly force in this incident is a clear violation of department police and directly contradicts multiple aspects of our use of force and training.”

He added that he was “deeply disturbed and troubled” by Remington’s actions and “as a result, the department moved earlier today to terminate Officer Remington”, who had been part of the Tucson police force for four years.

Tucson’s mayor, Regina Romero, declared Remington’s actions “unconscionable and indefensible”, adding: “It is moments like this that test our resolve to ensure justice and accountability. We owe this to all Tusconans.”

Mike Storie, an attorney representing Remington, condemned Remington’s termination and described the comments made by Magnus and Romero as politically motivated.

“These are unbelievable circumstances that I’ve never seen,” he said, adding that Remington “attempted to de-escalate the situation” until he had no other choice.

The Pima county attorney’s office is currently reviewing the shooting for potential criminal charges against Remington.

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