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News / Clark County News

Former Washougal police officer convicted

Ritchie guilty of assaulting mentally ill man

By Tyler Graf
Published: March 19, 2013, 5:00pm

A Clark County District Court judge Wednesday convicted and sentenced a former Washougal police officer for attacking a mentally ill man restrained in the backseat of a police cruiser.

In a bench ruling, Judge Sonya Langsdorf convicted Robert E. Ritchie, 53, of fourth-degree assault for a July incident in which he twice punched 26-year-old Tyler Lampman in the face after taking the man into custody. Fourth-degree assault is a gross misdemeanor.

Langsdorf sentenced Ritchie to two days of house arrest, a $100 fine and two years of bench probation, during which he’s to have no contact with Lampman.

In September, Ritchie was fired from the Washougal Police Department over the incident.

The defense had asked for a lenient sentence because of Ritchie’s 29-year career as a police officer.

Defense attorney Jaime Goldberg said although he expected a not guilty verdict, he was content with the judge’s sentence.

“The sentence was a fair one, given who he is,” Goldberg said. “Sometimes, they just treat people like they’re a piece of meat.”

He said Ritchie didn’t intend to hurt Lampman and was reacting to a threatening situation. Ritchie restrained himself after realizing he was going too far, Goldberg said.

Lampman was taken into custody on July 1 on suspicion of domestic violence against his mother and brother. After being restrained in the back of Ritchie’s patrol cruiser, Lampman began thrashing around, bashing his head into the plastic partition and spitting at Ritchie.

In court, Ritchie acknowledged he punched Lampman twice but said he held back further blows after realizing he had to stop. Witnesses gave inconsistent testimony on the number of times Ritchie punched Lampman, with numbers ranging from four to eight.

It also wasn’t the first time Ritchie’s actions had come under fire for being too extreme.

He was demoted from sergeant in 2004 for shooting Olga Rybak 27 times with a stun gun for failing to comply with dog regulations.

The police department concluded Ritchie had used excessive force.

The Rybak incident didn’t play a factor in Ritchie’s firing or sentencing, however.

Tyler Graf: 360-735-4517; http://twitter.com/col_smallcities; tyler.graf@columbian.com.