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On his 60th birthday, family and friends mourn Peoria man killed in police shooting

Members of Richmond's family, including his sister Karen Smith (right) prepare to release six balloons for his 60th birthday.
Collin Schopp
Members of Richmond's family, including his sister Karen Smith, right, prepare to release six balloons for his 60th birthday.

Family and friends gathered in Tuesday afternoon at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Peoria to commemorate what would have been the 60th birthday of Samuel “Vincent” Richmond.

Four Peoria police officers shot and killed Richmond in Martin Luther King Jr. Park around 10 p.m. on Oct. 3. The circumstances leading up to the use of deadly force are still unclear. Chief Eric Echevarria has said Richmond was armed, placing officers in a “life-threatening situation.”

Around 30 people, including Richmond's sister, Karen Smith, and his mother Eloise Richmond, were at the park Tuesday to release six balloons, light candles and sing “Happy Birthday.”

“He was always there in my corner for anything I needed. He was always there,” said Alphonso Alexander, who had known Richmond since the early '70s. “He's a man first. And he's a family man. And he's a friend to everybody. Every time you see him, all you see is smiles, and always encouragement.”

Alexander said sometimes, when coming home from a shift at Caterpillar, Richmond would be there, waiting to talk to him at 11 p.m.

“This is great right here, when you see the community come together and stuff,” he said. “You know, it’s a bittersweet moment.”

Tony Scott is another longtime friend of Richmond, with similar experiences.

“He was a good guy,” said Scott. “He was an all-around good guy, would do anything to anybody, you know, help anybody. That’s how we was raised.”

Demetrius Randle also grew up around the same time as Richmond and remembers playing basketball against him as a kid.

“The guy was a very, very honorable, respectful person. Came from a very respectful family,” said Randle. “So, that's why so many people are hurting, because it's not like him to be confrontational.”

At the event, Kristen Meierkord, the president of the Peoria branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the state level of the organization is calling for the release of the police body camera footage of the incident.

“I do think that the police in these similar incidents have been really quick to disclose the body cam, to ease the public a little bit,” Meierkord said. “That hasn't happened here.”

She said her hope is for quick answers for Richmond's family.

Meierkord also knew Richmond, meeting him during his time as an employee at the former East Bluff Kroger store. At that job, he earned the nickname “Meat Man.” She remembers him continuing the spirit of his work, even after the Kroger closed.

“I remember him going through the neighborhoods, because a lot of people in our neighborhood in the East Bluff don't have transportation or have a hard time getting places,” said Meierkord. “And he would go and buy meat, put it in a cooler in his car and drive around and talk to people.”

The Illinois State Police are investigating the shooting.

Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.