Man involved in standoff, attack on CO sentenced to 8 years in prison

The man was convicted of trying to attack a CO with a sharp weapon and firing a pellet pistol at LEOs during a standoff

Christena O'Brien
Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — Convicted of trying to attack a corrections officer with a sharp-edged weapon and firing a pellet pistol at police during a standoff, a 23-year-old Eau Claire man was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday.

“Frankly, you need to be out of the community for awhile,” Eau Claire County Judge John Manydeeds told Emmitt M. Ritter-Simpson during his sentencing hearing.

Manydeeds also sentenced Ritter-Simpson to eight years of extended supervision following his release from prison.

As terms of his supervision, Ritter-Simpson can’t engage in any violent or threatening behavior or possess any weapons or ammunition, the judge said. He also can’t consume alcohol, enter bars or taverns, buy, possess or sell any illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia or have contact with correctional officers Jason Higley and Shane Jensen or their families.

Ritter-Simpson also isn’t to have contact with four of his other victims unless they and his probation agent agree to it. He is to take medication as prescribed and maintain full-time employment, school or both.

In January, Ritter-Simpson pleaded guilty to seven felony counts: three counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety; and one count each of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, battery with substantial risk of great bodily harm, battery to a law enforcement officer and strangulation and suffocation; and a misdemeanor count of battery.

“These are very troubling cases,” Manydeeds told Ritter-Simpson. “The number of people affected by your actions is huge.”

While prison time is warranted, Ritter-Simpson also needs intensive therapy, said defense attorney Steven Hughes, who told Manydeeds his client had been physically, mentally and sexually abused as a child and carries weapons to protect himself.

“I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” Ritter-Simpson told the judge.

According to the criminal complaint in the standoff case:

At 2:50 p.m. Jan. 16, 2018, police responded to a mobile home park at 1611 Western Ave., on a report of a man shooting a pellet pistol at family members, and a standoff ensued.

During the standoff, which lasted several hours, Ritter-Simpson fired the gun at officers, striking several, including one in the forehead. He also yelled threats and obscenities at officers and threatened to use explosive devices if officers entered the residence.

More than three hours into the incident, Ritter-Simpson attempted to escape by fleeing out the back door, and officers took him into custody without incident.

According to the criminal complaint in the attack case:

Correctional officers Higley and Jensen were escorting Ritter-Simpson from a housing unit to a visitation room at the Eau Claire County Jail for a visit with his attorney on Feb. 8, 2018.

Jail video footage shows Ritter-Simpson grabbing Higley’s head and drawing it toward himself.

Ritter-Simpson had an edged weapon in his left hand, and he made a stabbing motion toward Higley’s head and neck. The correctional officer was able to duck away.

The weapon Ritter-Simpson used was a jail-issued toothbrush. It’s rigid plastic handle had been sharpened to form a point and an edge.

The corrections officers involved in the incident told authorities Ritter-Simpson threatened to kill them and their families.

Interviewed two weeks after the incident, Ritter-Simpson said he didn’t remember what happened.

“Mr. Ritter-Simpson, you are in an interesting spot in your life … ,” Manydeeds told the defendant during his sentencing hearing. “Good luck to you.”


©2019 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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