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Peoria police officers involved in fatal shooting of Samuel Richmond are at work, before determination on justification is made

Tim Shelley

The four Peoria police officers involved in the Oct. 3 fatal shooting of 59-year-old Samuel Vincent Richmond are on the job - albeit in back-office roles.

Peoria Police Department spokeswoman Semone Roth confirmed officers Candice Fillpot, Christopher Heaton, Danny Marx, and Andrew Fuller are currently on critical incident leave, but are reporting to the police department to perform "non-public facing administrative duties."

The department's deadly force response procedures call for officers involved to be removed from line duties and placed on critical incident leave with pay pending evaluation. The officers are required to remain available for "any necessary administrative investigations."

The police department's policies and procedures implemented by then-interim Police Chief Loren Marion defines critical incident leave as "a paid leave of absence, approved by the Chief of Police, granted to an employee directly involved in a critical incident when it is determined by the individual's work unit supervisor, or relevant policy/statute, that it is in the best interest of the employee and the department."

A shooting involving police officers is one of the criteria defining a "critical incident" under published Peoria police procedures.

On Oct. 4, Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria announced the four officers were placed on administrative leave per departmental policy.

Roth declined to answer any additional questions, including whether the officers' current status differs from the administrative leave status announced on Oct. 4, or whether the four officers returning to the office for work is in line with the procedures followed during previous investigations of shooting incidents involving police officers.

The Illinois State Police confirms its investigation into the Richmond shooting is completed. The case was submitted to the Peoria County State's Attorney's Office for review and a determination as to whether the officers' use of fatal force was justified.

Peoria County State's Attorney Jodi Hoos said Wednesday that she hasn't yet made a determination in the case. She said the news media will be informed when that happens.

Chama St. Louis, a spokesperson for Richmond's family, said they've received no updates from the Peoria County State's Attorney's Office on the review.

Peoria police convened a press conference on Dec. 2 to release more information about the Oct. 3 incident to the press and public. At that event, Echevarria provided a narrative of events, and selected clips and image still from police body camera footage. Body camera footage, 911 call audio, and dispatch audio were also released online following the press conference.

Those materials were released before the Illinois State Police investigation was completed, but after the city denied Freedom of Information Act requests seeking materials related to the case, citing the pending investigation. Peoria Mayor Rita Ali told reporters at the press conference that the community had a right to know more as the 60-day mark since the incident approached.

Additional details in ISP notes

A synopsis of the Richmond case compiled by the Illinois State Police contains some details, though their full investigation hasn't been made public.

As previously reported, Richmond was shot multiple times by Peoria police at Martin Luther King Jr. Park on the evening of Oct. 3. Echevarria said Richmond pointed a gun at officers before they opened fire, fatally shooting him.

Echevarria also cited Richmond pointing a gun at officers when asked by reporters at the December press conference about officers handcuffing Richmond before performing CPR following the shooting, or whether behavioral health co-responders were called or present.

A search warrant filed two days after the incident contained a report from a friend of Richmond's, who said Richmond had made comments indicating he was going to take his own life. According to an affidavit, the friend told a 911 dispatcher that Richmond had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and had a Glock pistol.

The ISP summary of the case also mentions the note handwritten by Richmond that a friend turned over to authorities the day after his death. That letter alluded to him going to rest at peace and being thankful to God.

The Illinois State Police also mentioned an account of a woman who said she met Richmond in the parking lot of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the weeks before Oct. 3. She told police Richmond said he was drinking daily, despairing, and told her and her companion that they would be seeing him on the news in the future.

Richmond was affectionately referred to as "Meatman" by his family and friends, a reference to his many years working in the meat department of the former Kroger store on Wisconsin Ave. on Peoria's East Bluff.

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Updated: February 1, 2023 at 12:59 PM CST
This story was updated with comments provided Wednesday by Peoria County State's Attorney Jodi Hoos.
Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.