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$5 million bond set for man accused of killing Cleveland police officer on 4th of July

Cleveland Police Officer Jamieson Ritter in uniform in front of the U.S. flag.
Cleveland Division Of Police
Cleveland Police Officer Jamieson Ritter was killed while on duty on July 4, 2024. Ritter was originally from Webster, New York, and was a veteran of the Ohio Army National Guard.

Delawnte Hardy was arraigned Friday morning in Cleveland Municipal Court, facing a charge of aggravated murder in the July 4 killing of Cleveland police Officer Jamieson Ritter.

Judge Andrea Nelson Moore set Hardy's bail at $5 million.

Ritter died after being shot near the 1500 block of East 80th Street around 1 a.m. Thursday morning.

A memorial service to honor Ritter will take place at Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in Downtown Cleveland on Monday, July 8 at 10 a.m.

Ritter joined the division four years ago, after graduating from Syracuse University. He served in the Ohio Army National Guard in Syria in 2022. In May, officers Ritter and Brittany Vajusi were named Police Officer of the Month by the Cleveland Police Foundation, a charity foundation affiliated with the Cleveland police.

They were honored for their compassion and dedication after providing CPR to two shooting victims and pulling a man from the Cuyahoga River, according to the foundation.

"Today is a sad day for our city," said Chief Dorothy Todd in a July 4 press release. "Ironically, on this day designated for freedom, we are reminded of the evil that tries to impose on our community. However, despite our pain and hurt, we take in the immense sacrifice Officer Ritter gave, and we will honor his memory and compassion. We will continue to carry his legacy in our hearts."

According to Todd, eight to 10 officers attempted to arrest Hardy, who had a felonious assault warrant in a local suburb, shortly after midnight Thursday morning.

Hardy was a suspect in the shooting of his grandmother in Garfield Heights, according to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's office. There's no record of a case against Hardy in Garfield Heights' online docket.

While attempting to evade Cleveland officers on a bicycle, Hardy allegedly fired at police multiple times, Todd said at a Thursday morning press conference on the steps of the Third District precinct where the 27-year-old officer was assigned.

Ritter was shot and transported to a hospital where he died.

"We just ask the residents of Cleveland to pray for this family," Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb said. "Pray for the men and women of our police department, especially as we celebrate this Fourth of July holiday and the freedom we have in this country."

Hardy does not appear to have a record of felony cases in Cuyahoga County. He was arrested by Cleveland police in December for criminal trespassing and resisting arrest but the charges were dismissed in April.

Hardy was not injured and was in custody at the time of the morning press conference, Todd said.

Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all U.S. and state flags on public buildings be flown at half-staff in honor of Ritter until sunset of the day of his funeral.

Updated: July 5, 2024 at 2:20 PM EDT
This story was updated on July 5 at 2:20 p.m. to include information on the arraignment of the man accused of killing Officer Jamieson Ritter.

This story was updated on July 4 at 2:38 p.m. to include the name of the officer killed in the line of duty and the suspect in the shooting.
Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.
Annie Wu is the deputy editor of digital content for Ideastream Public Media.