No charges for ex-St. Paul officer who wrote protester post

AP News
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Posted: Mar 12, 2016 4:17 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — No charges will be brought against a former St. Paul police officer who wrote a social media post urging drivers to run over people protesting on Martin Luther King Jr. Day against killings by police, the city's prosecutor said.

St. Paul City Attorney Samuel Clark said Friday that "there is no path to a criminal case" against Jeff Rothecker. The former sergeant resigned from the Police Department in February, a month after his post on Facebook.

Community members had pushed for Rothecker to be criminally charged. He had been on paid administrative leave, and his resignation halted any discipline he could have faced.

Rothecker's post urged drivers to run over protesters who rallied on King Day against the police killings of two black men in the Twin Cities last year. He later apologized for the post.

The city of St. Paul paid Rothecker $7,500 in exchange for his agreeing to not sue and waiving all claims, including under the Minnesota Veteran's Preference Act, the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1nFh9P5 ) reported.

Had Rothecker, a member of the St. Paul Police Department for more than two decades, stayed on as an employee and been disciplined, he would have had the right to appeal and the city would have been required to pay him during that time. St. Paul determined it would have been responsible for more than the amount reached in the agreement, said Jason Schmidt, the city's labor relations manager.

Rothecker, who was an Army veteran, also could have appealed any discipline under the state's Veterans' Preference Act. Schmidt said the process "can easily take a year," during which the city would have had to pay Rothecker his $93,000 salary.

The attorney for the St. Paul police union said Friday that the agreement spoke for itself and he had no comment. The newspaper could not reach Rothecker for comment.

Clark said his office has looked at the case "from every angle."

"The mayor has repeatedly reiterated his disgust for the comments, and I share his feelings," Clark said in a statement. "Mr. Rothecker's comments were outrageous and hurtful, to be sure, but that does not necessarily mean that a crime occurred."

Former St. Paul NAACP president Nathaniel Khaliq, who was among those calling for Rothecker to be charged, said the city attorney's decision is disappointing.

"It seems with cases like this, that are very egregious, they are violating the public trust ... and he pretty much gets to walk away," Khaliq said.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com