A police sergeant in St. Paul, Minnesota, has publicly apologized for comments made on Facebook calling for people to “run them over,” referring to a planned Black Lives Matter march, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported Wednesday. The city’s mayor and others continued to express outrage, however, after Sgt. Jeffrey Rothecker’s comments drew national media attention.
"My poor choice of words conveyed a message I did not intend and am not proud of," Rothecker said in a statement. "Shortly after submitting the post, I reread 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."
— WCCO - CBS Minnesota (@WCCO) January 20, 2016
In the now-deleted Facebook post Saturday, Rothecker called on others to “run them over” and “keep traffic flowing.” He referred to the demonstrators, who marched on Martin Luther King Day, as “idiots,” and advised individuals brought before a jury to claim they “feared for [their] safety” to win a trial. The protesters planned to block a bridge connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Andrew Henderson, who first reported the Facebook post to the police department’s internal affairs division, said he was “very glad [Rothecker] took ownership of his actions,” referring to the apology Wednesday.
Henderson, who often films police to monitor their actions, said he's “still concerned he made the statement in the first place,” the Pioneer Press reported. “That's something an officer with that much experience should have known not to make. ... If he's having those kinds of thoughts, it could impact his policing abilities and fairness of investigations.”
The holiday protests Monday blocked traffic in the city for about 30 minutes. Demonstrators demanded accountability for police killings last year of two men, one from St. Paul and another from Minneapolis.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said Wednesday he appreciated the apology, but remained outraged by the incident. “While an apology is certainly in order, it is not sufficient to repair the trust that has been broken. Beyond that, Minnesota law prevents me from talking about disciplinary action until any employee appeals period is over," he said in a statement.