MILWAUKEE — The officers who worked with Matthew Rittner the day he was killed choked back tears Wednesday as they relived what happened the morning of Feb. 6.
"He's slumped over," Officer Erin Tischer of the Milwaukee Police Department said. "Limp and I see blood pouring out of his nose and ears. I announce, Matt has been shot. Rittner's shot."
Tischer was toward the bottom of the stairwell as Rittner used his battering ram to open Jordan Fricke's door. Through her body camera, the gunshots can be heard and Rittner can be seen falling to the ground. Nearly all of the officers who testified thought at first he had just fallen. During an emotional day on the stand for officers, it was a moment that brought a smile to their faces, remembering Rittner's occasional clumsiness after using his brute force to tear down a door.
Those smiles quickly faded as they remembered how everything panned out.
Tischer was one of many officers who acted quickly to try to get Rittner to safety. They got as far as outside the home before realizing they needed to start rendering medical help right then and there because Rittner didn't have much time.
"We start to look for an entry wound because we didn't know the source of blood," Tischer said. "We assumed with blood coming out of his mouth, nose, ears, we assumed he was shot in the head. We check his neck and head and don't see anything. Someone asked for medical shears to cut his tactical kit off his person to check his body for an entry wound."
That's when they found a fatal shot that entered near his left armpit; an area many tactical officers mentioned as a vulnerability of their body armor.
According to the medical examiner, it's a wound so bad, he had no chance at survival.
"This is a flat lethal injury," said Brian Peterson, the chief medical examiner. "If this kind of injury happened in the waiting room at the Mayo Clinic, I don't think it makes a difference. We're talking about essentially separating the heart from the circulation system. There's no way to fix that rapidly enough."
All of the officers' views of what happened played out in similar fashion. The body camera video clearly showed the officers announced their presence loudly and repetitively. Rittner's battering ram can be heard and seen three times knocking in a panel. Four shots allegedly from Fricke's AK-47 style pistol ring out. Then, a brief but eerie silence as everyone realizes what happens. Then police take Fricke into custody.
However, defense attorney Michael Chernin continued to ask the witnesses if they know what Fricke was feeling. It's a question they can't answer in court as it would be hearsay.
It's unknown whether Fricke will testify in his own defense, so the only rendition of what happened inside his apartment could come from the only other person inside at the time: his girlfriend.
"The whole thing happened so fast," said Kylie Powell, Fricke's girlfriend. "To say how long, counting one-one thousand, two-one thousand, there's way too much going on, and I was extremely scared of what was going on."
"If this kind of injury happened in the waiting room at the Mayo Clinic, I don't think it makes a difference. We're talking about essentially separating the heart from the circulation system. There's no way to fix that rapidly enough." — Brian Peterson, chief medical examiner
Powell fought back tears herself while remembering that fateful day; calling it the most traumatic experience of her life. What she did confirm was Fricke firing the shots at police.
"Who fired those shots?" Assistant District Attorney Grant Huebner asked.
"Jordan," Powell responded.
"Towards what?" Huebner asked.
"The door," Powell said.
Powell's recollection of what happened over five months ago was hazy. She was unsure of exactly where she and Jordan were standing when they heard the bangs from Rittner's battering ram or even what moment she heard the police announce their presence.
"When I get to the kitchen," Powell said. "As I was getting out of bed and getting to the kitchen, right in that moment is where I heard, 'Police, search warrant.'"
"That's as you're walking into the kitchen to stand next to Jordan?" Huebner asked.
"I can't remember today if that's exactly when I heard it," Powell responded.
Powell said she was not positive it was the police until after the shooting.
"When the bright lights came on, I could see a shield," Powell said. "It became clear it was the police."
The prosecution still has a few witnesses to call, and the defense can call witnesses as well. The judge told the jury early in the week the trial should wrap up by Friday.