Ala. Police Officer Dies Day after Shootout with Suspect

Oct. 3, 2021
Sheffield Police Sgt. James Nicholas “Nick” Risner, 40, was shot multiple times and died Saturday following a gunfight with a suspect that also left another officer wounded.

Sheffield Police Sgt. James Nicholas “Nick” Risner died Saturday morning, a day after an incident the city’s police chief says “should have never happened.” Risner was injured Friday during a shootout with a suspect in Muscle Shoals.

“We mourn the loss of Sergeant Nick Risner, a hero who was senselessly struck down in the line of duty,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement. “Responding to a report of a victim in a roadway Friday afternoon in Muscle Shoals, Sergeant Risner was met by hostile gunfire during the ensuing chase of the suspect. Sergeant Risner suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was taken to Huntsville Hospital, where today he tragically succumbed to the injuries he sustained.”

Risner, 40, served more than eight years with the Sheffield Police Department where he was a K-9 officer. He was one of three Alabama police officers shot in less than 24 hours. Sheffield Lt. Max Dotson was in stable condition Saturday after being injured in the same incident that led to Risner’s death. A Warrior police officer was shot Thursday night during a drug investigation in northern Jefferson County. He is recovering at UAB Hospital.

There was an outpouring of support and condolences for Risner’s family and his Sheffield colleagues from law enforcement agencies and others across Alabama. Gov. Kay Ivey ordered state agencies to lower flags to half-staff on the day of Risner’s burial.

Muscle Shoals Police Chief Clint Reck said the chain of events began about 1:44 p.m. Friday.

Police responded to what was initially thought to be a hit-and-run on Avalon Avenue, but quickly discovered a person shot to death and lying in the street.

A witness nearby took a photograph of the vehicle, Reck said, which was registered to the victim.

A call went out to law enforcement with the vehicle’s description. It was spotted in Sheffield, where officers began chasing the vehicle.

Police chased the vehicle back into Muscle Shoals. The chase ended in an area behind the old Southgate Mall off East Avalon Avenue, near Walmart, Reck said, where the suspect exchanged fire with officers.

One shot narrowly missed a Muscle Shoals officer’s head inside a patrol car, Reck said.

The suspect was identified as Brian Lansing Martin, 41, of Sheffield.

Martin pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2013 in the May 11, 2011, shooting death of his father, Donice Scott, during a struggle outside Scott’s Tuscumbia home.

He received a 10-year sentence at the time but was released after about three years in prison, in May 2016, according to court records.

“The justice system failed not only Sgt. Nick Risner, but his family and everyone who has been affected by his passing,” Sheffield Chief Ricky Terry said in a statement Saturday. “This incident should have never happened, because a coward who should still be in prison was walking the streets.”

The State Bureau of Investigation has taken over the investigation and did not release any new information Saturday. SBI says the findings from the investigation will be turned over to the Colbert County District Attorney’s Office.

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