The St. Paul, Minnesota police department has placed an officer on administrative leave after putting up a Facebook post in response to an upcoming Black Lives Matter protest, telling drivers to “run them over.”
The message detailed what drivers could do to avoid being charged with a crime should they hit someone during a Martin Luther King Day march Monday (January 18, 2016) on the Lake Street-Marshall Avenue Bridge that links the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
“Run them over. Keep traffic flowing and don’t slow down for any of these idiots who try and block the street. Here is the deal, you continue to drive and if you hit someone make sure you call 911 to report the accident and meet the cops a block or two away and you can justify stopping further away because you feared for your safety since in the past people in this group has shown [sic] a propensity towards violence. Since they are trying to block the street and/or cross where there is no crossing you should not be charged with anything. Now, these idiots could try and sue you in civil court, but remember that it will be jury trial and so most likely it will come out in your favor.”
It was Andrew Henderson, of the police-watch group Minnesota Cop Block, who noticed the comment from a “JM Roth” early Saturday morning and reported it to St. Paul police. He filed an internal affairs complaint Sunday (January 17, 2015), naming Sgt. Jeffrey M. Rothecker as the accused.
Henderson met with St. Paul police on Sunday to formally file a complaint. It was during this meeting that he presented police with a disc containing other screen shots showing that Rothecker is, in fact, JM Roth. Henderson also claims to have found Rothecker’s marriage license and has screen shots of his wife’s Facebook page listing JM Roth as her husband.
“It’s really concerning to me that someone would encourage violence on a day celebrating a man who taught peace,” Andrew Henderson told CBS Minnesota.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman stated he was “outraged and disgusted” and he has “directed the SPPD to investigate.”
“There’s no room in the St. Paul Police Department for employees who threaten members of the public,” Coleman began. “If the allegation is true, we will take the strongest possible action allowed under law.”
The St. Paul police department has also released a statement, assuring an active investigation is pending in regard to the matter.
“We are aware of the concerns surrounding the comment posted on Facebook and are actively investigating. The statement is offensive, disappointing, concerning and does not reflect in any way—or align with—the views, values and practices of the Saint Paul Police Department.”