Courts stock image

OGDEN — A 30-year-old Washington Terrace man who was shot by a sheriff’s deputy responding to a domestic violence incident awaits sentencing for raising a rifle toward the deputy.

Daniel A. Ritchey appeared in 2nd District Court via video Wednesday from a Salt Lake City treatment center, but his sentencing was postponed for at least two months so he can continue treatment.

On March 13, 2020, emergency dispatchers got a call saying a Washington Terrace woman’s son had assaulted her. A Weber County sheriff’s deputy talked to the woman, who said Ritchey hit her on the head. Ritchey was not there. The deputy found a broken cellphone at the scene.

Later, the deputy returned after another caller reported a suspicious person was at the woman’s house.

According to court records, the deputy could see Ritchey’s mother inside the house and heard her arguing with someone. Concerned about the woman’s safety because of the earlier assault, the deputy went in and saw Ritchey “with a rifle that he raised in the direction of the officer,” according to the records.

The deputy fired four pistol shots, hitting Ritchey in the hand, and the man was arrested. An arrest affidavit said Ritchey was under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine.

According to the affidavit, Ritchey told another investigator “that he knew police officers were coming and wanted to confront them with the rifle to cause them to shoot and kill him.”

The Weber County Attorney’s Office charged Ritchey with second-degree felony assault against a peace officer and class B misdemeanor counts of domestic violence assault and criminal mischief.

In a plea bargain approved by Judge Ernie Jones on Feb. 24, Ritchey pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of third-degree felony attempted assault against a police officer. In return, the other charges were dropped.

Ritchey could be sentenced to up to 10 years in state prison, according to the plea bargain document.

Several relatives, including Ritchey’s mother and a sister who lives in Roy, wrote letters to the judge now handling the case, Cristina Ortega, asking for support for his mental health and substance abuse treatment rather than prison.

The sister said Ritchey saw his wife die in a car crash in 2016 and his father died of a heart attack in 2019, events both mentioned by his mother in her letter.

Ritchey then suffered a broken back, the sister said, and a Utah Adult Probation and Parole treatment report filed in court Tuesday said Ritchey still suffers from the behavioral impacts of a traumatic brain injury.

“I know if Daniel gets mental health and substance abuse treatment he will become my baby brother again,” the sister said.

Ritchey’s mother wrote to the judge that the alleged assault happened as they and Ritchey’s girlfriend were arguing.

“I was not the one that called the police that day and I want everything (charges) with me dropped,” she said. “The only thing I want is for my son to get into treatment and counseling so he can better cope with the loss our entire family has had to endure.”

Ritchey’s attorney, Rakay Michael, last year filed a motion to have the evidence against her client suppressed on the grounds that the deputy entered the home and evidence was collected without a warrant first being obtained.

But Jones later denied the motion, ruling that the deputy’s entry into the home was “reasonable under the totality of the circumstances.”

“Based on the ongoing domestic violence investigation, there appeared to be an exigent circumstance permitting entry without first obtaining a warrant,” the judge said.

“The emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement is designed to protect an occupant from imminent injury, and looking at all the facts in this case, that is exactly what was present here,” Jones said.

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!