For the second time in just over a week, a law enforcement officer has lost his life in the line of duty in an incident with Wayne County ties.
Sgt. Nick Risner of the Sheffield, Alabama Police Department died on Saturday morning from injuries he sustained on Friday when he was shot by an offender who had just shot and killed a Cypress Inn man.
Authorities said in a press conference on Friday evening that Brian Lansing Martin, age 41, of Sheffield, AL shot and pushed an individual out of a vehicle near the 800 block of Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals. That individual was later identified as William Clare Mealback, Jr., age 58, of Cypress Inn. Police initially responded to the scene around 1:44 p.m. Friday on a report of a possible hit and run. But, according to al.com, they soon discovered the victim, later identified as Mealback, had been shot and left on the street. A witness nearby took a photograph of the vehicle, according to Muscle Shoals Police Chief Clint Reck. The vehicle was registered to Mealback.
After abandoning his victim in the street, Martin stole another vehicle. Sheffield Police spotted the vehicle and chased Martin back into Muscle Shoals, behind the Walmart on Avalon Avenue. There, Martin and law enforcement officers from multiple agencies exchanged gunfire. Muscle Shoals Police Chief Reck said a bullet came close to an officer’s face but no officers in his department were injured.
Sheffield Police weren’t as fortunate. Lt. Max Dotson was hit but protected from severe injury by his vest, while Sgt. Risner was shot through his vehicle’s windshield.
Martin was also shot. He received medical treatment at the scene from officers before being transported to Huntsville Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition as of press time on Tuesday.
Sheffield Police Chief Ricky Terry released a statement on Saturday morning, saying in part, “It is with a heavy heart that the Sheffield Police Department is sad to report that Sgt. Nick Risner, who was involved in the shooting in Muscle Shoals yesterday, succumbed to his injuries this morning at 9:52 a.m. at Huntsville Hospital. We would like to thank the community and everyone who has prayed for Sgt. Risner, his family, and the Sheffield Police Department during this time.”
Chief Terry continued, “We are thankful for Sgt. Risner’s 8+ years of service with the Sheffield Police Department. Sgt. Risner performed a heroic act by preventing the shooter from entering the Walmart parking lot. If the shooter would have entered the Walmart parking lot, there is no telling how many lives would have been in danger or lost yesterday.”
According to al.com, 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, 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,” said Chief Terry. “This incident should have never happened, because a coward who should still be in prison was walking the streets.”