TUCSON. Ariz. - A former Tucson police officer has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges after he reportedly killed a man in a wheelchair who was caught shoplifting at a Walmart.
Ryan Remington was indicted last week, nine months after his alleged involvement in the shooting that killed Richard Lee Richards.
The judge released Remington on the condition that he not have contact with the victim's family and that he not have a gun.
Officials with the Pima County Attorney's Office talked about the indictment on Aug. 25. They didn't go into detail, but did talk about their months-long review process and their desire for justice in the county.
"I was determined, and so were my colleagues, that we would set aside emotion and do the work of justice," said Pima County Attorney Laura Conover.
The former officer will be back in court next month.
Shooting happened in 2021
The shooting happened in November 2021 at a Walmart when a loss prevention employee at the store told Remington that a man in a motorized wheelchair, later identified as Richards, allegedly stole a toolbox from the store.
The former policeman had been working as an off-duty security officer at the time.
According to police, Remington and the store employee followed the man outside and asked for a receipt. Richards reportedly said ‘Here’s my receipt,’ pulled out a knife and kept moving toward a nearby home improvement store.
"Now, according to the Walmart employee, Mr. Richards said, 'if you want me to put down the knife you're gonna have to shoot me,'" said then-Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus. Magnus later left the position to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and was succeeded by Chad Kasmar.
Remington allegedly ordered Richards to drop the knife and not to enter the store, but the suspect ignored the officer before he was fatally shot, nine times, and fell out of his wheelchair.
"Officer Remington fired nine rounds striking him in the back and side," Magnus said.
Richards, according to the Department of Corrections records, was a convicted felon who served prison sentences for burglary, armed robbery, and attempted first-degree murder. He was released in 2018.
As for Remington, he was fired for excessive use of force, as a result of the incident.
"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," said former Chief Magnus.
At the time of his firing, Remington was a 5-year veteran of Tucson Police. He was hired in January 2017.
Officials detail independent investigation
The independent investigation by PCAO took several months. They spoke to former prosecutors from outside the county, and conducted a review panel.
"There is no joy in the announcement today. No joy. I cannot turn back the hands of time not for Richards," said Conover. "Not for his sister, not for Mr. Remington and his colleagues, but we have an obligation to seek justice for the people of Pima County."
Remington was fired from the police department in january, for excessive use of force,, which according to police, is a "Clear violation of department policy."
Tucson's incumbent police chief also reacted to Remington's indictment. Kasmar issued a statement that reads:
"This tragedy greatly impacted the Tucson community and this department. Today, we received notice that Ryan Remington has been indicted by a grand jury and faces criminal charges. This is now a matter for the courts to adjudicate. I’ll be referring any further questions to the Pima County Attorney’s Office."
Richards' family, meanwhile, is filing a civil lawsuit against Remington.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report. This story was reported on from Phoenix.