An Arizona police department has moved to fire one of its officers who fired nine shots at a man in a wheelchair accused of stealing a toolbox, killing him.
The Tucson Police Department announced on Tuesday it was terminating officer Ryan Remington, a four-year veteran who shot and killed 61-year-old Richard Lee Richards on Monday in the parking lot of a Walmart store.
"His deadly use of force in this incident is a clear violation of department policy and directly contradicts multiple aspects of our use of force and training," Tucson police chief Chris Magnus said in a statement on Tuesday.
Tucson Mayor Regin Romero, meanwhile, condemned the shooting as "unconscionable and indefensible."
Mr Remington, whose attorney has defended his actions as necessary, was called to the scene shortly before 6pm on Monday while working off-duty on a “special duty assignment” at the Walmart, according to police.
Mr Richards, who died of his wounds, allegedly stole a toolbox and brandished a knife at an employee who asked him to see a receipt, telling the worker, “Here’s your receipt.”
The officer pursued Mr Richards through the parking lot and called for backup, warning him to drop the weapon and not enter a nearby Lowe’s store.
“If you want me to put down the knife, you’re going to have to shoot me,” Mr Richards said, according to the Walmart employee.
Mr Remington’s lawyer, Mike Storie, defended the officer’s actions as appropriate given the circumstances, and said the policeman had tried to calm the situation before resorting to deadly force.
“He’s trying to talk this guy down and de-escalate, that’s exactly what he’s trying to do,” Mike Storie said, adding, “Police business is messy at times.”
He also criticised local officials for commenting on the case before a full investigation was complete, saying their remarks would “inflame the community.”
The Pima County’s Attorney’s Office is now reviewing the incident, which was captured from multiple angles on police body cameras and CCTV.
Mr Richards was disabled after an injury sustained in the Chiricahua Mountains or Arizona in the 1990s, according to court records reviewed by 12news.
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