Cleveland Police Officer of the Month Shot, Killed Serving Warrant

July 4, 2024
Cleveland Police Officer Jamieson Ritter and his partner had recently been named Officers of the Month, and the two were credited with saving the lives of two people this year.

CLEVELAND – A Cleveland police officer who was shot and killed Thursday while serving a felony warrant recently was named Officer of the Month after he and his partner were credited with saving the lives of two people earlier this year.

Court records identified Officer Jamieson Ritter as the officer killed Thursday. Cleveland police released Ritter’s name on Thursday afternoon. De’Lawnte Hardy, 24, of Cleveland, has been charged with aggravated murder in the killing, which happened around 4 a.m. on East 80th Place in the city’s Hough neighborhood.

Ritter, who city records say lived in Olmsted Falls, was among 18 officers who joined the force in November 2020. Originally from suburban Rochester, New York, Ritter previously served as an ROTC cadet while he studied communications and rhetorical studies at Syracuse University, according to social media posts. He was a member of the Ohio National Guard and was deployed to Syria in 2022.

Cleveland police said in a news release that Ritter’s family said he wanted to serve his community and his country from a young age. He was assigned to the city’s Third District.

The Cleveland Police Foundation named Ritter, 27, and his partner, Brittany Vajusi, Officers of the Month five days ago. The pair gave emergency aid to two gunshot victims, one in February and one in May, and rescued a man who had jumped into the Cuyahoga River in April.

The pair’s sergeant, Eric Norton, wrote that their actions saved the life of one of the gunshot victims and prevented the man who jumped into the river from hypothermia. While tending to the second gunshot victim, the pair obtained information that led to the arrest of the suspected shooter, Norton wrote.

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb said in a statement Thursday that he was heartbroken over the officer’s death and vowed to bring his killer to justice.

“Our entire city mourns the tragic loss of this dedicated public servant,” Bibb said.

Gov. Mike DeWine ordered flags on public buildings in Cuyahoga County and on Capitol Square in Columbus to be flown at half-staff in honor of Ritter.

“On this Independence Day, this tragedy is a painful reminder of the sacrifices our law enforcement and military members make in support of freedom and public safety,” DeWine said in a prepared statement.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said his office would prosecute the killer to the fullest extent of the law.

“Our community needs to rally in support of officers and with a unified voice condemn the violence that’s happening daily in our community,” O’Malley said.

Cleveland Police Chief Dorothy Todd said at a news conference that Ritter was among eight to 10 officers who tried to arrest Hardy early Thursday on a felonious assault warrant issued from a suburban department.

Hardy tried to flee the scene on a bicycle, then pulled a gun and opened fire as officers gave chase, Todd said.

Ritter was rushed to University Hospitals, where he was pronounced dead, Todd said. Hardy, who police said was uninjured, was taken to a hospital as a precaution and later released into police custody.

Hardy has no felony criminal record in Cuyahoga County. Officials have not released any details on the warrant that led to the shooting.

In April, Hardy was found incompetent to stand trial on misdemeanor trespassing and resisting arrest charges in Cleveland Municipal Court, according to court records.

Cleveland police arrested him on Dec. 5 after someone said they saw him climbing through the broken window of a home on Central Avenue near East 37th Street. Cleveland police wrote in court filings that Hardy resisted arrest, and did not include any further details.

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Lauren Moore referred Hardy to the court’s psychiatric clinic, which found him incompetent and unable to be restored to competency within the time that prosecutors had to bring him to trial.

Ritter was killed just weeks after a Euclid police officer in his first year on the job died in what authorities described as an “ambush” shooting.

Jacob Derbin, 23, was shot and killed while responding to a domestic violence call on May 11. He and other officers were responding to a home on East 211th Street after a woman reported the father of her child was threatening her and her mother just before 10 p.m. She reported to officers the suspect had fled before they arrived. When officers went to check the backyard, they were “ambushed by gunfire,” Euclid police chief Scott Meyer told and The Plain Dealer. Derbin died later at a hospital. No other officers were injured.

The shooter, Deshawn Anthony Vaughn, 24, was found dead the next day following a standoff with police at a Shaker Heights apartment building.

Reporter Adam Ferrise contributed to this report.


©2024 Advance Local Media LLC.


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