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Officers will not face charges in August officer-involved shooting in St. Joseph

The Buchanan County Prosecutor's Office announced Friday that no charges will be filed in the officer-involved shooting of Roger A. Ricker Jr.

Posted: Sep 13, 2019 10:13 AM
Updated: Sep 13, 2019 1:39 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The Buchanan County Prosecutor's Office announced Friday that no charges will be filed in the officer-involved shooting of Roger A. Ricker Jr. The shooting happened on August 6 in the driveway leading to the residence of 1014 Riverview Drive in St. Joseph.

RELATED STORY: Highway patrol investigating officer-involved shooting that sends suspect to hospital

According to the release from the proescutor's office, three law enforcement officers fired at Ricker during the incident. Two officers were from the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force and one member of the St. Joseph Police Department Street Crimes Unit.

The Buchanan County Drug Strike Force investigators involved in the shooting were Billy Paul Miller and Erica Tate. The member of the St. Joseph Police Street Crimes Unit involved was Detective Aaron King.

Officers had been trying to apprehend Ricker for several weeks because there were three active felony warrants for his arrest from the Buchanan County Circuit Court. In addition, Ricker was wanted for questioning in reference to a hit-and-run accident on July 4, near 18th and Seneca, which resulted in serious injuries to a 6-year-old child.

The family of that 6-year-old boy spoke to KQ2 in the days following that incident.

The release from the prosecutor's office goes into detail about the incident:

"On August 5, a member of the Buchanan County Sheriff’s office while conducting surveillance, observed Ricker with an “AR-15” type rifle in his possession. Thereafter, the officers tasked with the apprehension of Ricker were attempting to conduct the arrest in an area in which members of the public would not be harmed if possible gunfire erupted.

On August 6, the members of the two units had tracked Ricker to the residence at 1014 Riverview Dr. The investigators had several law enforcement vehicles blocking exits and deployed “strike strips” outside of the partially open garage where a vehicle Ricker was known to drive, a red Ford Ranger pickup truck, was parked in clear view of the officers. Those measures were put in place due to history where Ricker was known to flee from officers and to carry firearms.

"Investigator Billy Paul Miller positioned himself in front of the residence with a clear view of the garage and the truck parked inside the open garage. Miller had arrested Ricker numerous times in the past and was well acquainted with him on sight. He observed Ricker approach the truck in the garage, with a weapon in his hand. Investigator Miller announced his identity and gave commands to Ricker to surrender to police. Ricker did not comply. Instead, Ricker stood behind the driver’s side door of the
truck, displayed, and pointed an AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle at the Investigator. Miller then fired his weapon, a Bushmaster .223 caliber rifle, at Ricker, which struck the truck.

Ricker then entered and started the truck fleeing from the partially open garage and headed in the direction of Investigator Miller who fired again at Ricker. Miller fired 3 times at Ricker. Ricker then turned his vehicle west and headed up the driveway towards Riverview Road directly toward Investigator Erica Tate, who was standing in the driveway near the driver’s side front fender of her vehicle. As Ricker drove his truck at Investigator Tate, she fired her service weapon, a 9mm Glock model 17, at Ricker, who took his truck through a small gap between the front of her vehicle and a fence, and turned northeast onto Riverview Drive. The vehicle was then traveling at a high rate of speed in the direction of St. Joseph Police Department Street Crimes Detective Aaron R. King, who was positioned near his vehicle. Seeing her fellow officer in danger from the vehicle driving toward him, Investigator Tate continued firing at Ricker as he drove straight toward Investigator Aaron King. Tate fired her weapon 6 times at Ricker.

Investigator King, seeing the Ford ranger accelerating in his direction, also fired his service weapon, a .223 Bushmaster Rifle, twice at Ricker. The truck then traveled off the roadway down a small embankment, across Boulevard View Drive, and into a guardrail nearly. Ricker, who had been struck with multiple projectiles, was then taken into custody."

The Missouri State Highway Patrol had applied for a search warrant to search the residence Ricker had exited form prior to his encounter with law enforcement officers. The warrant was granted by Buchanan County Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Spencer for a search of the residence at 1014 Riverview Drive. "A surveillance camera system was located. The system was a live feed system with no recording devices attached. A rifle case was loacted in the basement bedroom area but was empty.

Investigators applied for a search warrant for the vehicle Ricker operated and found:

  • One Del-Ton Inc. 5.56 mm semi-automatic AR-15 carbine rifle; (Reported as stolen)
  • 33 live rounds of .223 REM ammunition
  • One .223 Rifle Magazine
  • Four 9 mm bullet fragments/projectiles
  • One small Ziploc baggie containing black tar substance, believed to Heroin
  • Two Ziploc baggies containing plant material, believed to be marijuana
  • Numerous bullet fragments

At the hospital, toxicology reports showed that Ricker had alcohol and marijuana in his blood.

In the statement, the prosecutor's office says that a law enforcement officer is allowed to use lethal force if that officer has a reasonable belief that the use of such force is necessary to protect himself or another from serious physical injury or death. The statement goes on to say:

"When Ricker refused to follow commands to stop and submit to his arrest, displayed a lethal weapon at the officers, and attempted to injure one or more of the officers by driving a pickup truck toward multiple officers, Ricker presented a danger to the lives of the Officers on the scene. Their decision to use deadly force against Mr. Ricker under those circumstances is authorized by Missouri Law and as such, there is no basis to issue criminal charges against either of the officers."

Ricker is a convicted felon and is prohibited from possessing a firearm. He has been convicted in the past for multiple felony offenses including stealing, unlawful use of a weapon, criminal non-support, felony while driving intoxicated, and felony driving while revoked, as well as additional misdemeanor offenses. He has been sentenced on multiple occasions to various terms of imprisonment in the Missouri Department of Corrections. He was mostly recently released form prison in May.

The prosecutor's office says that Ricker's medical condition is now serious. He has suffered a medical injury to his head and it being treated in the intensive care unit at Mosaic Life Care. It is possible Ricker cold be transferred in the future to a long-term rehabilitation facility in Nebraska. If his condition improve and he is released, criminal charges will be considered by our office for various alleged felony offenses that occurred during this incident.

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More hot and humid weather on the way for today with highs back in the upper 90s with some areas reaching triple digits. Use caution when spending time outside because heat index values will once again be in the triple digits for many. A cold front will start to approach our area tonight and stall to our north giving us a few chances for showers and thunderstorms overnight, however this activity will not be widespread. Temperatures will still be above average this weekend with highs in the 90s. A few lingering rain chances will continue this weekend, but much of the weekend will be dry. The cold front will move through the area early next week giving us some much cooler temperatures. High will be back down in the upper 70s and lower 80s to start off next week.
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