Attorney: 'No path to criminal case' for St. Paul cop who told drivers to ‘run over’ protesters

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The St. Paul police officer who resigned after telling people to run over protesters will not be charged with a crime.

Community members had pushed for criminal charges against Jeffrey Rothecker after he posted on Facebook about Black Lives Matter protesters, but St. Paul City Attorney Samuel Clark said in a statement to BringMeTheNews that "there is no path to a criminal case."

"Mr. Rothecker’s comments were outrageous and hurtful, to be sure, but that does not necessarily mean that a crime occurred," Clark's statement said, noting prosecutors looked at it "from every angle."

Rothecker was placed on administrative leave while the police department investigated his comments. He resigned from his position in mid-February.

Clark says the crime that most closely matches what Rothecker did is disorderly conduct – it's a misdemeanor to engage in "offensive, obscene, or abusive language tending reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others."

Although it may seem as if his comments would fall under that, Rothecker's "comments do not meet" standards set forth by a Supreme Court ruling, which found part of the statute unconstitutional unless limited to "fighting words," Clark explained. 

Rothecker's resignation also stopped any discipline he could have faced, the Pioneer Press reports. The agreement between him and the city means he will not sue and he waives all claims he could make against the city. In return the city paid him $7,500.

If he would have stayed on as an employee and was disciplined, Rothecker would have been able to appeal the punishment, and the city would have been required by law to pay him during the appeal process, the Pioneer Press says. Ultimately, the city determined that would have been more expensive than the amount Rothecker received in the agreement.

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