By Brandon Moseley
The state of Alabama is mourning the loss of Sheffield Police Sergeant and K-9 officer James “Nick” Risner.
The 40-year-old officer died over the weekend from wounds he received defending the neighboring community of Muscle Shoals from a man police called an "armed and dangerous convicted felon." Police Lt. Max Dotson was also wounded in the pursuit. Lt. Dotson is in the hospital recovering from his wounds.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) said on social media, “In less than 24 hours, three AL police officers were shot in the line of duty. I’m devastated to learn Sheffield Police Sgt. James “Nick” Risner succumbed to his injuries this morning. I offer my heartfelt prayers to his family, fellow officers & community.”
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) said in a statement, “We mourn the loss of Sergeant Nick Risner, a hero who was senselessly struck down in the line of duty.
“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," Marshall added. "Sergeant Risner suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was taken to Huntsville Hospital, where today he tragically succumbed to the injuries he sustained.”
Marshall called the officer a hero.
“We often take for granted the safety of our neighborhoods and communities while—every minute of every day—heroes sworn to protect and serve us venture into harm’s way,” Marshall stated. “Sergeant Risner was such a hero. We live our lives in security because of the bravery and commitment of men like Sergeant Risner who vigilantly stand guard against evil. We can never repay their sacrifice. Please pray for Sergeant Risner’s family, friends, and fellow officers.”
ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor issued the following statement concerning the loss of fallen Sheffield Police Officer Sgt. Nick Risner:
“On behalf of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Sheffield Police Officer Sgt. Nick Risner,” Taylor said. “It has been absolutely devastating to learn of the loss of Sgt. Risner who was a true professional and dedicated public servant, devoting nearly a decade of his life to protecting and serving his local community, as well as his nation by serving with the United States Army Reserve.
“His determination to serve the public will always be remembered and the sacrifice he made will never be forgotten,” Taylor continued. “As we mourn alongside fellow law enforcement officers as well as the entire community, we also pray for the speedy and full recovery of Lt. Max Dotson who was struck by gunfire during the incident and fortunately, is doing well.”
U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) said in part, “This weekend, my heart is with the brave men and women of the Sheffield Police Department. Please join me in mourning the loss of Sgt. Risner and praying for the recovery of Lt. Dotson."
"Sgt. Risner performed a heroic act by protecting the Shoal's Community from the shooter from entering the Walmart parking lot," Sheffield Police Chief Ricky Terry said. "Sgt. Risner died a hero, and his legacy and memory will be with Sheffield Police Department and the Sheffield Community forever.”
Police said the shooter was Brian Lansing Martin, 41. According to media reports, Martin was convicted of manslaughter for the killing of his father and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2013. The Bureau of Pardons and Paroles granted Martin parole in 2016 after serving just three years. Many in law enforcement across the state are angry that Martin received an early release.
“The justice system failed not only Sgt. Nick Risner, but his family and everyone who has been affected by his passing," Terry said. "This incident should have never happened because a coward who should still be in prison was walking the streets.”
According to the Muscle Shoals Police Department, the incident started with a report of a person in the road on Avalon Avenue. Law enforcement began following the vehicle suspected of hitting the pedestrian. Eventually, there was a shootout between law enforcement and Martin. Risner and Dotson were both struck by gunfire.
According to media reports, Dotson was reportedly hit in his bulletproof vest and will recover. Martin was also wounded by gunfire and is being treated for his wounds in the same Huntsville hospital where Risner died Saturday.
Martin was discharged from the hospital and booked into the Colbert County Jail on Oct. 6. He is charged with three counts of capital murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of shooting into an occupied vehicle, and one count of felon in possession of a firearm.
Risner is survived by his parents and a daughter. Risner served on the force for eight years.