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Ohio officer shot, killed while serving warrant

Cleveland Police Officer Jamieson Ritter, 27, had just been named Officer of the Month five days before he was shot and killed

Officer Jamieson Ritter

Officer Jamieson Ritter was among 18 officers who joined the force in November 2020.

Cleveland Police Department

By Cory Shaffer

CLEVELAND, Ohio — 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 lives in Olmsted Falls, was among 18 officers who joined the force in November 2020. He previously served as an ROTC cadet while he studied communications and rhetorical studies at Syracuse University, according to social media posts.

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.

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.

Reporter Adam Ferrise contributed to this report.

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