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‘You don’t have to do this.’ Officer shot with own gun pleaded for life, IL officials say

The Charlotte Observer logo The Charlotte Observer 1/5/2022 Mitchell Willetts, The Charlotte Observer

A disarmed Illinois police officer pleaded with her accused killer to let her live just before she was fatally shot with her own gun, state officials told news outlets.

Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic, 49, was killed and another officer, 27-year-old Tyler Bailey, is still fighting for his life after an investigation into a noise complaint on Dec. 29 ended in gunfire at a hotel in the town of Bradley, McClatchy News reported. Rittmanic died in a hospital on Dec. 30.

Illinois State Police launched a manhunt for two suspects wanted in connection to the shooting of the Bradley officers: Darius Sullivan, 25, and a 26-year-old woman he was with, Xandria Harris.

Sullivan and Harris were later arrested, as were family members of Sullivan who are accused of helping him evade capture, according to Jim Rowe, the Kankakee County state’s attorney.

Rowe is pursuing the death penalty for Sullivan and Harris, his office announced Jan. 3. Although Illinois does not perform executions, Rowe is asking federal officials to seek the death penalty.

Rowe shared details about what authorities say happened when Rittmanic and Bailey – responding to a call about loud dogs in a car in a hotel parking lot – knocked on the door of Sullivan and Harris’ room.

Shortly after arriving, police say, Bailey determined the vehicle belonged to Xandria Harris, a known acquaintance of Sullivan, who had warrants out for his arrest, WMAQ reported. Bailey and Rittmanic asked the hotel front desk where Sullivan and Harris were staying, and were directed to room 308.

The officers knocked, identified themselves as police and told Harris to open the door. Harris said she would, but it was another 14 minutes of knocking before prosecutors say she finally came out, WBBM reported.

Harris, who was pregnant, opened the door only enough so she could squeeze through, using her body to try to block Rittmanic and Bailey from coming inside and arresting Sullivan, prosecutors say, according to the outlet.

As the officers told her to move, Sullivan suddenly swung into view , prosecutors say, with a 9mm pistol loaded with a high-capacity drum magazine in his hands, WBBM reported. He’s accused of shooting Bailey in the head before opening fire on Rittmanic, hitting her once before she ran down the hall to avoid his gunfire.

He’s accused of chasing after Rittmanic before the two struggled in the hallway, each with a gun but neither able to shoot the other, WMAQ reported. Sullivan’s pistol had jammed and he was trying to clear it with his right hand, while pulling at Rittmanic’s service weapon with his left — a temporary stalemate until Harris got involved, prosecutors say.

With Harris’ help, Sullivan wrenched Rittmanic’s gun from her hands, the station reported.

Injured and unarmed, Rittmanic begged Sullivan not to kill her.

“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, WMAQ reported. “She was desperately pleading for her life.”

Standing over her, Sullivan shot Rittmanic twice in the neck with her own gun, prosecutors say.

Harris handed keys to Sullivan and told him to run, then went back to room 308 to collect her two children and flee, according to WMAQ.

Sullivan and Harris have been charged with first degree murder of a police officer, and attempted first degree murder of a police officer, a release says.

Rowe is seeking life sentences for Sullivan and Harris at the state level, in addition to pushing for the federal death penalty.

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