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Officer allegedly abuses wife

Courtney Astolfi • Jan 25, 2014 at 1:22 PM

A Vermilion police officer was placed on administrative leave Thursday night after deputies served him a protection order and seized his weapons following an alleged domestic violence incident with his wife.

Rickie Riggs, 55, is now on paid leave pending the outcome of the civil protection order case, Vermilion police Chief Chris Hartung said.

Erie County deputies first responded to Riggs’ Vermilion Township home Thursday morning after his wife filed for a protection order because Riggs had allegedly attacked her the night prior, according to court documents.

Riggs allegedly pushed and hit his wife Wednesday night during an argument about Riggs seeing another woman, according to an Erie County deputy’s report.

The couple’s adult son said Riggs’ outburst was “like someone flipped a switch” the report stated.    When deputies went to the home Thursday morning, Riggs was not there. He later returned after deputies left, however, prompting his wife to call 911, the report said.

When deputies returned to the home, Riggs denied the allegations of domestic violence. He told deputies his wife started the argument, there was no physical violence and he did not threaten her.

“Rickie was nonchalant about the matter,” the report stated.

Riggs’ wife did not say why she failed to call authorities Wednesday night and declined to pursue criminal charges. In the petition for a protection order, filed Thursday, she alleged ongoing physical and verbal abuse from Riggs, calling attention to concerns about his mental health.

She cited Riggs’ “large temper” and “big ego” and described how he has pushed, shoved and hit her, documents stated.

“I am afraid he will totally lose control,” she wrote in the petition.

Riggs’ wife also mentioned instances of sexual aggression.

Deputies ultimately served the protection order at 8 p.m. Thursday, seizing multiple weapons from Riggs’ home, including his service weapon, Hartung said.

Once Riggs’ police-issued gun is released by deputies, it will likely be given back to Vermilion police, as it is city property.

Hartung said he’s had no disciplinary issues with Riggs in the 25 years he has worked at the Vermilion Police Department.

“I can’t vouch for what happens at home, but I have seen no decline in his work-related performance,” Hartung said.

Waiting for a civil issue to conclude before pursuing an internal police investigation is standard protocol, Hartung said, and Riggs’ case will be no different.

In the meantime, Riggs must stay 500 feet away from his wife, and he is barred from any sort of contact with her.

The protection order hearing is slated for late January, Hartung said, at which point Riggs can refute any of the allegations.

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