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Prosecutor: Illinois cop was disarmed, killed with own gun

Prosecutor: Illinois cop was disarmed, killed with own gun

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KANKAKEE, Ill. — A police officer who was killed at a northern Illinois hotel pleaded for her life before a man allegedly shot her with her own gun after she was disarmed during a struggle, a prosecutor said.

Bradley police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic and her partner, Officer Tyler Bailey, were shot on Dec. 29 while investigating a noise complaint regarding dogs barking in a parked car outside a Comfort Inn. Bailey remained hospitalized Monday and is "fighting for his life," Kankakee County State's Attorney Jim Rowe said during a bond hearing for Xandria Harris.

Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic

Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic

Rowe said during Monday's hearing that Harris' co-defendant, 25-year-old Darius Sullivan, had his own gun and used it to shoot Bailey in the head after the officers knocked on the pair's hotel room door, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Rowe said Sullivan then allegedly shot at Rittmanic as she tried to run away before he chased her down a hallway and pinned her against a door. As Sullivan and Rittmanic scuffled, he said Sullivan called out to Harris and she helped him disarm Rittmanic.

Rowe said the encounter was captured on Rittmanic's body camera.

He said Sullivan and Harris then allegedly stood over Rittmanic pointing guns at her as she lay on the floor, already shot once.

"Sgt. Rittmanic was pleading with them to, 'Just leave, you don't have to do this, please just go, please don't, please don't,'" Rowe said. "She was desperately pleading for her life."

While Harris held Sullivan's gun, Sullivan allegedly fired two shots from what prosecutors believe to be Rittmanic's gun, striking the sergeant in the neck area, Rowe said.

Sullivan and Harris are charged with fatally shooting Rittmanic, 49, and critically wounding Bailey, 27. Sullivan, who was arrested in Indiana, is fighting extradition to Illinois.

In a statement released through the Illinois State Police, Rittmanic's family said she sought to meet people where they were in life and work with them to find solutions. To her, the job was about making the community safe for everyone, and she believed that "just because you can, doesn't mean you should," the statement said. 

"If she pulled over a single mother without a $1 to her name but clearly had violations, she would consider the long-term consequences of creating more debt to someone that is already impoverished," Rittmanic's family said. 

The Bradley Police Department said Rittmanic was a 21-year law enforcement veteran who served as an Iroqouis County deputy before she joined the Bradley department in 2007. 

Rittmanic was a published poet, amateur photographer and film producer for family, police and community events, the department said. She met her wife, with whom she was an avid dog rescuer, in 1999, and they were married in 2011. 

Rowe said his office will seek life sentences on the state charges. He has asked the Justice Department to review the case with the intention of pursuing federal death penalty charges. Illinois is not a death penalty state.

Rowe said in a news release that there is "recent precedent" for pursuing the federal death penalty for the murder of a law enforcement officer and also precedent for pursuing it in "non-death penalty states."

A message seeking additional comment was left for Rowe on Tuesday by The Associated Press.


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