ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A St. Paul police officer accused of urging drivers to run over Black Lives Matter protesters in a Facebook post has apologized for his actions.
The St. Paul Police Federation, which represents Sgt. Jeff Rothecker, said Wednesday the Facebook post in no way endorses the behavior that the post suggests. However, the federation will ensure that Rothecker receives his due process while the incident is under investigation.
Rothecker resigned from his post on the Minneosta Fraternal Order of Police on Tuesday. He had been the 2nd vice president of the group.
The Facebook post came early Saturday morning under an online article about a protest planned for Martin Luther King Day. Protest organizers hoped to shut down the Lake Street/Marshall Avenue bridge connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The Facebook comment read: “Run them over. Keep traffic flowing and don’t slow down for any of these idiots who try and block the street.” The post then elaborated on how drivers can avoid prosecution if they do hit a protester.
Rothecker was placed on administrative leave in the aftermath of the post.
He issued a statement about the matter on Wednesday.
“I am extremely sorry for posting what I did, I understand that the post was insensitive and wrong. My poor choice of words conveyed a message I did not intend and am not proud of. Shortly after submitting the post, I re-read it and deleted it. As a law enforcement officer, I would never intentionally encourage someone to commit a crime. I very much regret my actions.
“I apologize to all the citizens of St. Paul, the department, my fellow law enforcement professionals and my family for the scornful attention my mistake has brought upon them.
“I apologize for exposing all law enforcement officers to increased scrutiny, during this difficult time of ongoing conflict between officers and members of the community.
“I apologize to the community members who participated peacefully in the protest,” the statement reads.
Rothecker is a veteran of the United States Army. He has been an officer with the St. Paul Police Department for more than 20 years.