A St. Paul, Minn., police sergeant is facing an investigation after he reportedly encouraged drivers to run over Black Lives Matter protesters at an upcoming rally, the Pioneer Press reports.
In the post, the sergeant allegedly detailed how people could avoid being charged with a crime if they hit a protester during the march, which was held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and blocked traffic on the Lake Street-Marshall Avenue Bridge, the site notes.
"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 a propensity towards violence," the comment by "JM Roth," posted under an article about the protest, read.
"Since they are trying to block the street and/or cross where there is no crossing you should not be charged with anything," the post continued. "Now, these idiots could try and sue 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—who, according to Pioneer Press, often videotapes police officers at work to hold them accountable—who first saw the post from "JM Roth" around 1 a.m. on Saturday and filed an internal-affairs complaint Sunday with the St. Paul Police Department, naming Sgt. Jeffrey M. Rothecker.
Henderson claims that he has evidence that the poster, "JM Roth," is Rothecker, including that a woman whose last name is Rothecker indicated on Facebook that she is married to the poster. State records show that a woman with the same name is married to a Jeffrey M. Rothecker, the site notes.
The St. Paul Police Federation is representing Rothecker, according to the Pioneer Press. The union's attorney, Chris Wachtler, released a statement Monday in which the union declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman issued his own statement on Monday, saying that he was "outraged and disgusted" by the post.
"[Police] Chief [Thomas] Smith and I are committed to building strong, trusting relationships with the communities we serve," Coleman said in the statement, according to the Pioneer Press. "There is no room in the St. Paul Police Department for employees who threaten members of the public. If the allegation is true, we will take the strongest possible action allowed under law."
The head of internal affairs, Senior Cmdr. Shari Gray, said about the matter, "This was of grave concern because of the upcoming event and we want to make sure everybody's safe," Gray said. "If we needed to change tactics or operational security on the event, we needed to do it. And then, two, make sure that if indeed this was one of our officers, that it's addressed quickly."
"The statement [posted] is offensive, disappointing, concerning and does not reflect in any way—or align with—the views, values and practices of the St. Paul Police Department," the department added in its own statement.
Read more at the Pioneer Press.