Local

Apr 16, 2014 1:44 PM by Q2 News

Police chief: Fatal shooting by officer justified

BILLINGS - Police Chief Rich St. John said that no weapon was found in the vehicle where a Billings man was fatally shot by an officer, but he said the shooting was justified.

Speaking at a news conference Wednesday morning, St. John said a search late Tuesday of the car where Richard David Ramirez was shot turned up drug paraphernalia but no weapon.

St. John said the officer ordered Ramirez seven times to not move his hands, and Ramirez raised and lowered his hands six times before the officer shot him.

Ramirez was struck three times in the torso.

The police chief said he believes Ramirez was the only one who was not listening to the officer's orders.

"In my opinion, the (officer's) actions were justified," he said.

The officer, whose name has not been released due to safety concerns, has been placed on administrative leave.

A concern at the scene was that two of Ramirez' brothers were both wanted on warrants, including Jason Ramirez, who was being sought by US Marshals, St. John said.

Richard Ramirez, 38, was a suspect in an armed robbery Sunday where a man was shot in the arm.

On Monday night, the officer recognized Ramirez as he was riding in the back seat of a vehicle and made a traffic stop.

The vehicle turned into an alley off of State Avenue at about 11 p.m. The officer approached the vehicle and opened the door to talk to Ramirez.

St. John said a video from the officer's patrol car shows the officer had been following the car for 54 seconds.

The video also shows the officer did not have the patrol lights on and the car pulled over on its own.

The chief said that by pulling over on its own, the driver of the car initiated the traffic stop, which is why the officer did not wait for back up.

Thirty-two seconds passed from the time the officer got out of his vehicle and the first shot, St. John said.

In a statement released to Q2 on Wednesday afternoon, Ramirez' parents expressed grief over the loss of their son.

"It was wrongful death what the police did to my son," Julio Ramirez said. "(They) had no right to shoot him when he was just a suspect. My whole family is taking this very hard."

Later Wedsnday afternoon, a small group of people gathered outside police headquarters to protest against the shooting.

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