An Eau Claire man was convicted Friday of trying to attack a corrections officer with a sharp-edged weapon and engaging police in an armed standoff last winter on the city’s north side.
Emmitt M. Ritter-Simpson, 22, 1611 Western Ave., pleaded guilty to three felony counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety, felony counts of battery to a law enforcement officer, strangulation and suffocation, battery with substantial risk of great bodily harm and first-degree recklessly endangering safety, and a misdemeanor count of battery.
Judge John Manydeeds ordered a pre-sentence investigation by the state Department of Corrections.
Ritter-Simpson will be sentenced March 11. He could receive up to 31 years in prison.
According to the criminal complaint in the attack case:
Correctional officers Jason Higley and Shane 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 at 1:45 p.m. Feb. 8.
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. He made a stabbing motion toward Higley’s head and neck.
Higley was able to duck away from Ritter-Simpson and was not stabbed.
The weapon Ritter-Simpson used was a jail-issued toothbrush with the rigid plastic handle sharpened to form a point and an edge.
All the corrections officers involved in the incident told authorities Ritter-Simpson threatened to kill them and their families.
Ritter-Simpson was interviewed two weeks after the incident and said he did not remember what happened.
According to the criminal complaint in the standoff case:
Police responded at 2:50 p.m. Jan. 16 to a mobile home park at 1611 Western Ave. on a report of a man shooting a pellet pistol at family members.
During the standoff, which lasted for several hours, Ritter-Simpson fired the BB gun at officers, striking several, including one in the forehead, and yelled threats and obscenities at officers.
At about 5:40 p.m., Ritter-Simpson exited the mobile home and surrendered to officers.
In his interview with police, he admitted firing the BB gun at police and said he barricaded himself in the trailer because he wanted to die. When asked why he decided to surrender, Ritter-Simpson said, “I guess the switch flipped back.”
While he awaits sentencing, Ritter-Simpson will remain in the Eau Claire County Jail on a $100,000 cash bail.