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Mourners gather in Downtown Cleveland to honor officer killed in the line of duty

Mourners gathered at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Downtown Cleveland this morning to memorialize Jamieson Ritter, a 27-year-old Cleveland police officer fatally shot while responding to a call on East 80th Street on July 4.

Shortly before 10 a.m. Monday, police cars lined Superior Avenue and officers stood outside the cathedral's main entrance on East 9th Street waiting for the procession to arrive.

The corner of 9th and Superior was strikingly still and quiet for a sunny Monday morning. Then the Cleveland police official bagpipe and drum band began to play as Ritter’s coffin arrived.

Officers in their dress uniforms stand outside a church.
Matthew Richmond
Ideastream Public Media
Law enforcement from across Northeast Ohio await outside St. John the Evangelist Church for the funeral procession of Cleveland Police Officer Jamieson Ritter on Monday, July 8, 2024.

An hour earlier, rows of law enforcement officers in dress blue uniforms with brass buttons and white gloves stood shoulder to shoulder along Rocky River Drive on Cleveland's West Side.

They were awaiting the arrival of Ritter's family at Chambers Funeral Home for a procession to accompany Ritter's body to the church, stopping at the West Park Police and Fire Memorial on Riverside Drive.

Police officers stand at attention in line on a street. On the sidewalk, two women hold a black and white flag with a blue stripe.
Ygal Kaufman
Ideastream Public Media
Police officers from around Northeast Ohio gathered for a procession to accompany the body of Jamieson Ritter, a Cleveland police officer killed in the line of duty on July 4, 2024. Monica Durica and Doris Peters stand holding a Thin Blue Line flag.

Doris Peters and her daughter Monica Durica stood outside the funeral home to show support for Ritter and police.

Peters, who lived in Cleveland for 35 years, said her family has turned out to support the families of other officers killed in the line of duty over the decades.

"That's why we came here," Peters said. ''To show our support and say prayers and just let them know we care about them."

Police blocked off streets and blue and silver ribbons were placed along overpasses and light posts along the route.

Officers and deputies from departments around Ohio attended the procession and provided traffic control, including those from Warren, Orville and Youngstown.

Ritter joined the police department 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.

Ritter was one of eight to 10 officers who attempted to arrest a suspect who had a felonious assault warrant in Garfield Heights, shortly after midnight Thursday morning.

Delawnte Hardy was a suspect in the shooting of his grandmother in Garfield Heights, according to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's office.

While attempting to evade Cleveland officers by riding away on a bicycle, Hardy fired at police multiple times, according to police. Ritter was shot and transported to a hospital where he died. Hardy was charged Friday with aggravated murder.

After an hourlong service at St. John's Monday, Cleveland Police Chief Annie Todd told reporters she was struck by the support for police and Ritter from the community.

“The number of people who were out there supporting, recognizing and honoring Jamieson was unbelievable, and it was just really touching," she said.

Then the procession, led by police motorcycles and accompanied by Chief Todd and members of Ritter’s family, began making its way to Upstate New York, where Ritter is from and where his funeral will be held.

Stephanie Czekalinski contributed to this story.

Abbey Marshall covers Cleveland-area government and politics for Ideastream Public Media.
Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.