MILWAUKEE — The sentencing date for Jordan Fricke, 27, of Milwaukee, convicted in the February shooting death of Milwaukee Police Officer Matthew Rittner, was pushed back to October on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
Fricke was in court Wednesday for a status of counsel hearing, during which the court discussed the new attorney just appointed for Fricke. The defense requested a new sentencing date, and the state did not object. The sentencing date was moved from Aug. 29 to Oct. 18.
On Aug. 14, Fricke was in court as a defense motion to withdraw as counsel was granted, but stayed until Aug. 15. On Aug. 15, the defense was ordered to notify the Public Defender’s Office to appoint new counsel for Fricke.
Fricke was convicted by a jury on four counts on July 12:
- First degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon
- First degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon — two counts
- Maintaining a drug trafficking place
The verdict was reached after just one hour of deliberations. He faces a mandatory life sentence.
Background on this case
Officer Rittner was shot as he and other officers executed a search warrant near 12th and Manitoba on Feb. 6 in connection with a drug and firearms investigation. He died at the hospital.
According to the criminal complaint filed against Fricke, on Dec. 27, 2018, Milwaukee police officers responded to the area near 5th and Hayes regarding a “shots fired” complaint. Officers encountered and arrested a convicted felon in possession of a black handgun, as well as cocaine and ecstasy.
During the investigation into this crime, officers determined the gun used in that “shots fired” incident had been purchased 13 days earlier at a gun show by someone that was not the convicted felon. They determined the firearm had been purchased by an associate of Fricke. They deemed this “indicative of unlawful gun trafficking through the use of a ‘straw purchaser.’”
After the December incident, the complaint said officials developed a confidential informant (CI) in the case. That informant “indicated (Fricke) and his friend “Marlon” had been using an associate to purchase firearms at gun shows and stores.” The CI said Fricke and his friend would “ask individuals to purchase firearms for them, and then will turn around and sell those firearms to others for a profit.” The CI said Fricke “and his friend had others purchase approximately 13 to 15 firearms for them in the past four to five months.”
The complaint said the CI indicated “(Fricke) is a drug dealer who sells marijuana and had been doing so for several years.” The CI also told police Fricke is a concealed carry permit holder — and would normally be in possession of a firearm while selling marijuana.
Controlled buys of marijuana
On Feb. 1, officers used the confidential informant to “conduct a controlled purchase of $20 of marijuana.” During a phone conversation, Fricke allegedly asked the CI if he “would be willing to attend a gun show to purchase firearms.” The CI eventually made two separate purchases of marijuana from Fricke, the complaint indicates — one for $20 and one for $40.
Based on the marijuana purchases and the information about the purchase of a weapon, officials sought a warrant to search Fricke’s residence. The request was reviewed — and a “no-knock” warrant was authorized due to the presence of firearms and the resulting threat to officer safety.
Execution of search warrant
On the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 6, the Milwaukee Police Department Tactical Enforcement Unit went to execute the search warrant at the residence near 12th and Manitoba. The complaint said, “all nine members of Unit 5 were wearing a black ballistic helmet and body camera.” They also had vests that had “POLICE” written in visible white letters.
According to the complaint, officers took positions around the residence and were yelling, “Police, search warrant!” They eventually got to Fricke’s door — and Officer Rittner then used a “ram device three times” to open the door. The complaint said, “almost immediately, four gunshots are fired through the opening in the door from inside the defendant’s residence.” Officer Rittner was struck. Officers got into the residence and saw Fricke’s hands in the air. At the same time, other team members carried Officer Rittner to safety down the stairs and outside to a rear yard. He was taken to Froedtert Hospital where he did not survive his injuries.
In an interview with police, the complaint said Fricke “admitted to selling marijuana.” He also “admitted to assembling rifles and selling them at gun shows.”
In regards to the execution of the search warrant, the complaint said Fricke “admitted to being in bed with his girlfriend when he was awoken by a loud noise and yelling. (Fricke) several times claimed that he did not hear what was being yelled, but later did admit that when he entered his kitchen from the bedroom he heard someone yell ‘police’ outside the kitchen door.” He stated, “he did not think it was actually the police attempting to enter his residence.”
The interview went on to say Fricke “armed himself with his AK 47 pistol and aimed at the center of the door, where a hole was made.” Fricke told police “he aimed at the hole, where he saw a person standing and shot.” When police crashed through the door, Fricke “claimed that this was the point at which he realized that it was the actual police.”
Marlon Tirado, 24, was also charged in connection with this case — facing two counts — possession with intent to deliver THC and maintaining a drug trafficking place. Tirado was at the residence at 12th and Manitoba at the time the search warrant was executed. Prosecutors dismissed the charges against him on Aug. 8.