COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. — The pain for the Sheffield Police Department and the rest of its community is still setting in. According to investigators, Sgt. Nick Risner’s life was cut short when Brian Lansing Martin shot at officers on Friday.
“I hope the one that did all the shooting and stuff will get what he deserves,” Sheffield resident Brad Hamm said. “Prison time, whatever it takes.”
Muscle Shoals Police Chief Clint Reck said Martin, 41, was also hit during the shooting and was taken to Huntsville Hospital.
Martin was arrested in 2011 for killing his father over an owed debt in Tuscumbia. He was sentenced in 2013 to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter and was released from prison in May 2016, according to police.
Chief Reck said they received a call at 1:44 p.m. Friday of a pedestrian that had been hit on Avalon Avenue. When they arrived, Reck said officers found the victim, who was dead, had been shot.
Sheffield police spotted a vehicle matching the description of one that left the scene, Reck said, and officers there chased the suspect back into Muscle Shoals. Officers trapped the suspect’s vehicle behind the mall in order to keep him from getting close to the nearby Walmart, said Reck, and Martin began shooting.
One officer was hit in the vest and not injured, Reck said. Sheffield Police Chief Ricky Terry confirmed Lt. Max Dotson was the officer hit in the vest. Sgt. Nick Risner, a K-9 officer, was shot through his windshield. He was immediately flown to Huntsville Hospital. Sgt. Risner died from his injuries the following morning.
“I feel awful,” Kristen Stamper said. “Anybody that murders somebody should be kept in prison. I mean he should be locked up. He should be kept there.”
Jay Town, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, said more needs to be found out to ensure a former convict like Martin can’t get the chance to fire on law enforcement ever again.
“If [Martin] didn’t serve the sentence that he was given for some early parole reason or something like that, well yeah we need to look at that system,” Town said. “But otherwise we just need to be patient [to find more facts]. But I understand why Sheffield PD and the families of these officers would feel like the justice system failed them.”
Chief Ricky Terry echoed that stance to a crowd at Saturday night’s vigil honoring Risner’s memory.
“The justice system has failed tremendously,” Terry said. “If that coward (Martin) would have still been in prison serving his ten years, that would not have happened. So I encourage every one of you to go to your representatives in Montgomery. Something’s got to change.”
Attendees at Risner’s two memorial services over the weekend said they were honoring someone who lived and died for “a purpose,” that being to serve his community no matter what.