Sgt. Nick Risner: Tribute to slain Sheffield police officer

This is an opinion tribute cartoon.

Alabama has lost another hero.

Here’s an excerpt from Carol Robinson’s story (linked above) that shows the character of Sheffield Police Sgt. Nick Risner:

Emma Gregory stood alone on a north Alabama bridge, ready to end it all.

The high school senior had long struggled with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

Gregory was happy that night – Dec. 30, 2019 – and planned to leave this world on a good note.

Car after car passed by Gregory. No one stopped.

Sheffield Police Sgt. Nick Risner, for reasons even unexplainable to him at the time, got off work 15 minutes early, which was a rare thing.

Risner stopped when he saw Gregory and asked her what was going on. Gregory told Sgt. Risner she had a flat tire.

Sgt. Risner said, “No it’s not. It’s not flat,” Gregory recalls.

Sgt. Risner, whom Gregory did not know, walked over to the struggling teen and put his arms around her.

“He just hugged me, and I must have cried out like seven years of tears,’’ Gregory said. “Fifteen minutes can make a huge difference in someone’s life and 15 minutes saved my life.”

“He said, ‘God sent me here. God’s not done with you yet,’’’ Gregory said.

“Because of God sending him to that spot at that time, I was able to graduate from high school, and now I’m in college and a worship leader and trying to become a doctor.”

All because Sgt. Risner noticed. All because he stopped.


From Carol Robinson’s report: 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 he tragically succumbed to the injuries he sustained.”

Peace, love and prayers to Sgt. Risner’s family, friends and colleagues at the Sheffield Police Department.

Rest in Peace, Sgt. Risner.


JD Crowe is the cartoonist for Alabama Media Group and and 2020 RFK Human Rights Award winner for Editorial Cartoons.

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