Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney Ronald R. Holliday today announces that no criminal charges will be filed in the Officer-Involved Shooting of ROGER A. RICKER JR., w/m, 36 years of age. The shooting occurred on August 6, 2019, in the driveway leading to the residence of 1014 RiverView Drive, St. Joseph, Missouri. Three Law Enforcement Officers fired at Ricker during the incident. Officers involved included two members of 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 Investigators Billy Paul Miller and Erica Tate. The member of the St. Joseph Police Street Crimes Unit involved was Detective Aaron King.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol, Special Division of Drug and Crime Control, conducted the investigation at the request of the St. Joseph Police Department and the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department.
The officers had been trying to apprehend Ricker for several weeks. Members of the units were searching for Ricker because there were three (3) active felony warrants for his arrest from the Buchanan County Circuit Court. In addition, he was wanted for questioning in reference to a serious Hit and Run incident on July 4th, near 18th & Seneca, which resulted in serious injuries to a 6 year old child.
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.
MSHP investigators applied for a search warrant to search the residence Ricker had exited from prior to his encounter with law enforcement officers. Buchanan County Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Spencer granted a search warrant 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 located in the basement bedroom area but was empty.
MSHP investigators seized the truck Ricker had been operating. The investigators applied for and received a search warrant to search the vehicle for evidence or contraband. The following is a list of the items seized pursuant to the search warrant by the MSHP:
1. One (1) Del-Ton Inc. 5.56 mm semi-automatic AR-15 carbine rifle; (Reported as stolen)
2. Thirty-three (33) live rounds of .223 REM ammunition;
3. One (1) .223 Rifle Magazine;
4. Four 9 mm bullet fragments/projectiles
5. One (1) small Ziploc baggie containing black tar substance, believed to be Heroin;
6. Two (2) Ziploc baggies containing plant material, believed to be marijuana;
7. Numerous bullet fragments.
Medical toxicology reports show that Ricker had alcohol and Marijuana in his blood at the hospital.
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. 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 even possessing a firearm. He has been convicted in the past for multiple felony offenses including Stealing, Unlawful Use of a Firearm, Criminal Non-Support, Felony Driving While Intoxicated, and Felony Driving While Revoked, as well as additional misdemeanor offenses. Buchanan County Judges have sentenced him on multiple occasions in the past to various terms of imprisonment in the Missouri Department of Corrections. He was most recently released from prison in the Missouri Department of Corrections in May of this year.
The medical condition of Ricker now is serious. He has suffered serious medical injury to his head and is still being treated in the Intensive care unit at Mosaic. It is possible that he will be transferred in the future to a long-term rehabilitation facility in Nebraska. If his medical condition improves and he is released, criminal charges will be considered by our office for various alleged felony offense that occurred during this incident.