A former Arizona police officer who fatally shot a man in a motorized wheelchair in an alleged shoplifting last year was charged Monday with excessive force in a federal trial.
In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Arizona, attorneys for the family of Richard Lee Richards, 61, said they were seeking to hold former Tucson police officer Ryan Remington accountable for having fired nine shots outside a Lowe’s on Nov. 29 in what the suit describes as a slow encounter that could have been resolved without lethal force.
“Mr. Remington’s actions have caused deep sadness, anguish and trauma to Mr. Richards’ family,” attorney John Bradley said in a statement. .”
The lawsuit also alleged wrongful death and accused the city of Tucson of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The city has not changed police department policies to ensure officers interact appropriately with people like Richards, who had a broken hip and was using a wheelchair when he was fatally struck, according to the pursuit.
Remington was fired for the shooting in January and charged with manslaughter last month.
Remington was on special security duty at a Walmart south of downtown Tucson when the shooting happened, according to the lawsuit. Shortly before 6 p.m., an employee told her that Richards, who was in a motorized wheelchair, had stolen a set of tools and left, the suit says.
When Remington and the employee confronted Richards in the parking lot, he responded by saying, “Here’s my receipt” and he brandished a knife, according to the suit.
The employee returned to the store and Richards left, tossing the tool set on the floor and crossing the mall parking lot towards Lowe’s, the suit says.
Remington followed Richards for several minutes, alerting a dispatcher who said an officer with a “less lethal” weapon was on the way.
As Richards approached an entrance to Lowe’s, Remington could be seen in body camera video telling Richards to stop. Seconds later, Remington opened fire, hitting him eight times, according to the suit.
After firing eight times, Remington stopped, then fired a ninth shot, which the prosecution described as evidence of his “depraved” state of mind.
When the video was released in December, former Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said the shooting was “a clear violation of department policy and directly contradicts multiple aspects of our use of force and of our training.
The police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
Remington could not be reached for comment, and its attorney, Mike Storie, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Storie said Remington opened fire after “perceiving a threat” against a Lowe employee. Speaking to NBC affiliate KVOA in August, Storie described the manslaughter charge as a “legal fiction” and said the charge “didn’t fit”.