KANKAKEE — A gruesome scene of what police say happened at the Comfort Inn in Bradley the night of Dec. 29 was painted in court Monday as prosecutors sought to keep one of the two people charged in the shootings of two Bradley police officers in jail.
During Monday’s bond hearing for Xandria Harris, Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe told the court that footage from the body cam worn by fallen Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic shows she pleaded with Darius D. Sullivan and Harris as they stood over her with a gun.
“Sgt. Rittmanic was pleading with them to leave,” Rowe said. “‘You don’t have to do this. Please just go. Please don’t. Please don’t.’ She was desperately pleading for her life.”
Both Sullivan, 25, of Bourbonnais, and his girlfriend, Harris, 26, of Bradley, are facing murder charges in Rittmanic’s death.
They are both also facing attempted murder charges in the shooting of Officer Tyler Bailey, who remains in critical condition at a Chicago area hospital.
Both were in court on Monday — Sullivan in Wabash County in Indiana and Harris in Kankakee County.
In front of a standing-room-only crowd — made up mainly of Bradley police officers and other local agencies — during Harris’ hearing Monday, Kankakee County Circuit Judge Kathy Bradshaw Elliott granted a request to deny bail for Harris, who attended via video conferencing from the county jail.
“You are a real threat to the community,” Elliott said.
Rowe gave an account of what happened when the officers responded just after 9:40 p.m. Wednesday to a call of a barking dog in an unattended vehicle in the parking lot of the Comfort Inn.
Rittmanic’s body cam footage shows, Rowe said, Harris attempted to block officers’ entry into the hotel room and prevent them from arresting Sullivan, who was wanted on outstanding warrants for failure to appear.
During the officers’ and Harris’ struggle in the doorway, Sullivan appeared from around the corner in the hotel room holding a 9mm equipped with a drum clip, Rowe said.
As Harris continued to struggle with the officers at the door, Sullivan shot Bailey in the head, Rowe said.
“Sullivan then fires a first shot at Sgt. Rittmanic as she attempts to exit the kill zone,” he continued.
Sullivan chased her down the hotel hallway and pinned her against a door, according to court documents. At this point, his firearm jams and he seeks assistance from Harris to either disarm Rittmanic or unjam his gun, according to the reports.
“Once [Harris] and Sullivan had disarmed Sgt. Rittmanic, they stood over Sgt. Rittmanic as she lay on the floor, already having been shot once. [Harris] stood over Sgt. Rittmanic while holding Sullivan’s 9mm and/or the drum clip,” the document continued.
Sullivan then fired two shots from what is believed to be Rittmanic’s duty weapon, striking her in or about the throat and/or neck, the record states.
DEATH PENALTY SOUGHT
Rowe said during Monday’s bond hearing for Harris that he would be contacting the U.S. Attorney General’s office to review both Sullivan and Harris’ cases.
Although Illinois is not a death penalty state, the U.S. Attorney General can authorize the filing of a petition to seek the death penalty in a federal murder case under certain circumstances, Rowe said. There is recent precedent for the United States pursuing the death penalty for the killing of a law enforcement officer, he said.
“This is the darkest reminder of the danger that our law enforcement and first responders face on a daily basis, in every community across this globe, every single time they put on the uniform,” he said in a press release.
The state’s attorney office will also seek life sentences for both Sullivan and Harris as the existing state-level charges proceed.
Sullivan was arrested Friday in a home in North Manchester, Ind., and is now fighting extradition back to Kankakee County.
Rowe said he will request Indiana’s governor to sign a warrant to have Sullivan extradited to Kankakee County from Indiana, where he is currently being incarcerated.
“We are going to ask that the governor’s office expedite the review and approval of this warrant,” Rowe told the Daily Journal Monday morning.
An extradition order requires the surrender of a defendant to another governmental authority in order for the defendant to be tried in that jurisdiction. The defendant can fight the extradition.
Harris’ case will go before a Kankakee County grand jury on Jan. 22. The next court date for her is Jan. 27 when she will be arraigned.
An Orlando teenager laced up his running shoes on Sunday to offer a tribute to fallen Bradley Police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic.
Zechariah Cartledge, 13, ran 1 mile carrying a “Thin Blue Line” flag, which symbolizes support for first responders and especially police. That flag will be sent to the family of the fallen officer along with a handwritten note. That’s what Cartledge does for every first responder “who makes the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.”
To date, Cartledge has run 1,104 miles in honor of fallen first responders. He does this while raising funds through his nonprofit, Running 4 Heroes.
Since his run honoring Rittmanic on Sunday, Cartledge has received thanks and messages of appreciation from the Kankakee County community and Rittmanic’s family.
“We’ve had lots of feedback from that community, from Rittmanic’s family and wife,” he said via phone on Monday. “We’ve also received feedback from [Officer Bailey’s family] and have been getting updates from them on how he’s doing.”
Kankakee County Jim Rowe said this week that Bailey continues to be hospitalized and fighting for his life after he was shot alongside Rittmanic on a call Wednesday to Comfort Inn in Bradley.
The same night Cartledge ran a mile for Rittmanic, he also ran a mile for Chicago firefighter MaShawn Plummer who died in the line of duty last month. For that mile, Cartledge carried a red-line flag.
Cartledge shared that he has been running for about five years and began doing a number of 5k events that honor first responders. In a specific race, Tunnel to Tower, Cartledge found himself running alongside first responders dressed in full gear.
He came to find that they were running in honor of first responders who were killed during the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
“That inspired me to do something related to them but on my own level,” he said.
After getting in contact with the widow of a fallen 9/11 first responder that Cartledge was running in honor of, he then began raising funds for the families of fallen first responders and running a mile in each of their honors.
Along with his father, Chad Cartledge, Running 4 Heroes began in 2019 and the younger Cartledge has run in 21 states, including Illinois.
“It started growing really fast, so we created a board of directors,” he said, noting that, “over the years, we found a perfect group of people.”
“In the day and age we are living in, now more than ever, it’s important to show our support to our first responders and help honor those that have fallen giving their lives to service,” Chad said.
“When Zechariah set out on this mission, we wanted to do our part to stand with him, though I don’t think any of us had an idea of just how big of an impact it would eventually make across the country,” he continued. “In the end, we hope this mission honors our heroes well and shows them that what they do matters and that their service and sacrifice are appreciated.”
The organization donates monthly grants of $10,000 to individuals injured in the line of duty. The individuals are nominated through an application process, and one is selected each month. Cartledge and his team fly out to the recipient and present them with a check.
Overall, they’ve ran 1,104 miles to date and have given $227,000 to 27 respondents through monthly grants.
For more information on Running 4 Heroes, go to running4heroes.org.
Visitation and funeral services for fallen Bradley Police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic have been scheduled for later this week.
Visitation will be 2 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 6, in the Hawkins Centennial Chapel on the Olivet Nazarene University campus.
At 5 p.m., first responders and military will begin lining up for the walk-through, which will begin at 6 p.m.
Funeral services are set for 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 7, in the chapel.
A law enforcement procession will immediately follow the services. The public is encouraged to line the procession route to show support. A private interment will follow in Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood.
Editor’s note: The family of fallen Bradley Police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic has released a statement. Below is the family’s statement in its entirety.
“Kankakee County has lost a leader in community policing. Marlene believed in people and her ability to speak to the community with respect; meet them where they are in life; try to understand their true needs; and work together to find a solution that produced the least disruption in people’s lives. To her, the job was about making her community safe for everyone, she believed — and stated — “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
“Meaning if you have statutory grounds to arrest a person, tow their car or fine them, doesn’t mean you should. 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. She was awarded Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 2020 — just to drive home the type of Police Officer she really was. Marlene was also a published poet, amateur photographer and film producer for our family events, Bradley Police Department recruiting and community events.
“Marlene’s family and friends have affectionately gone out of their way to help us get through the most unnecessary, heartbreaking, painful, deplorable, tragic loss of our lives. We are deeply beholden and grateful to all of you.
“Our neighborhoods have lifted us with blue lights beaming through day and night as well as gifts of food and supplies. We are forever indebted to all of you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
“The community of Kankakee County came to a complete stop to stand in the cold to witness our hero, wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt — Sergeant Marlene Rittmanic-Stua — be transferred from Riverside to the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department and again from the Sheriff’s Department to Clancy-Gernon Funeral Home. We saw many familiar faces and complete strangers. We are more than grateful for you all and we know that you too are feeling the loss. For that, you know justice will have to be swift and reflective of their actions.
“The police departments — all of them throughout Illinois ... there are a lot, we would miss one if we tried to list them — their unconditional, voluntary, gratuitous, all-encompassing service to Marlene, her family and our extended family is meticulously carried out and ongoing.
“A very special thanks to Illinois COPS/100 Club team, our close friend Teresa Lanie, Katie Novak, Brian Coash, Clancy-Gernon Funeral Home and Olivet Nazarene University.
“Our world has been turned upside down, obliterated and hopelessly broken.
“In lieu of flowers, memorials in her honor may be made to the Marlene Rittmanic Memorial Fund at Federated Bank in Bradley. Memorials will be accepted at the services and the Clancy-Gernon Funeral Home in Bourbonnais, which is assisting with arrangements. The family is not utilizing any online crowdfunding sources.
“Additional information will be released in the coming days.”