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Police officer takes plea deal in road-rage case

Eric Ritter, who's on paid leave, is ordered to attend anger management classes.

August 30, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

GLENDALE — A Glendale police officer has been ordered to enroll in anger management sessions after admitting to hitting a motorist during an off-duty road-rage incident in Burbank, court officials said.

Glendale Police Officer Eric Ritter accepted a plea deal on Monday to plead no contest in the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Burbank to an amended misdemeanor count of disturbing the peace, which includes a section of fighting in public, court officials said.

The Burbank city attorney’s office originally charged Ritter with one misdemeanor battery charge for striking Armando Alvarez in October.

Superior Court Judge Michael Carter ordered Ritter to complete 52 sessions of anger management over the course of a year.

His sentencing was deferred pending the status on his progress, said Burbank Assistant City Atty. Denny Wei.

The disturbing-the-peace charge carries a potential sentence of 90 days in jail and a $400 fine, he said.

If Ritter obeys all laws and attends the sessions, Wei said the misdemeanor count could be reduced to an infraction.

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Ritter remains on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

Glendale city officials said they placed Ritter on leave after they found out about the charge filed against him.

Ritter's attorney, Michael Severo, could not be reached Wednesday.

The road-rage incident occurred at about noon Oct. 14, when Burbank police said Ritter and Alvarez had been cutting each other off while driving on city streets.

At a red light on Hollywood Way and Victory Boulevard, the men exited their vehicles and got into a brawl, police said. Witnesses flagged down a Burbank police traffic officer, who responded to the scene and stopped the fight.

After the Burbank officer discovered Ritter was an off-duty Glendale police officer, he immediately notified a Glendale police supervisor, who responded to the scuffle.

Alvarez sustained a cut inside his lip, but he told Burbank officers at the scene that he didn't want to press charges. Ritter also didn't want to pursue any charges.

Ritter is expected to appear Feb. 29 in courtr for a progress check, Wei said. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 28, when he must show that he complied with the court’s order, Wei added.
 
 

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