The St. Paul police sergeant widely criticized for a Facebook comment encouraging drivers to run over marchers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day apparently posted similar comments two months earlier.
Sgt. Jeffrey Rothecker issued a statement Wednesday admitting to writing "Run them over. Keep traffic flowing and don't slow down for any of these idiots who try and block the street" regarding the King Day march seeking justice for two men shot by police.
Rothecker apologized, saying he was "extremely sorry" and that the post was "insensitive and wrong." He did not mention a previous exchange he allegedly had that is now making the rounds on Twitter.
Becky Zosia Dernbach, communications director for Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (MNNOC), posted a screen shot on Twitter of the Nov. 16 exchange between Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) and "JM Roth," with the same user name and photo as the MLK Day post. The exchange occurred on the MNNOC Facebook page.
Dernbach said the remarks referred to protesters' Nov. 16 shutdown of Interstate 94.
"They should've ran them over," JM Roth posted. "Obviously their parents never taught them not to play on the highway. If drivers would've just kept driving, any idiot that wants to walk onto the highway and risk getting hit, it's their fault and not that of the driver. F BLM [Black Lives Matter], Community United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) and any others that support what they are doing."
CUAPB responds: "You have no idea what you are talking about. CUAPB has not endorsed this action nor did we participate. We believe in actions that target decisionmakers, not innocent motorists. Nonetheless, the real crime is what happened to Jamar Clark."
JM Roth responds to CUAPB: "Really, because you were out blocking streets last night right along with BLM [Black Lives Matter]. You're also great at blocking peoples (sic) right to free speech on your FB page, especially people who have proved you wrong in the past."
"It still would've been illegal to hit them with your car," a citizen said.
"Nope, as long as you stop and speak with police it is not illegal," JM Roth says. "So try again."
Dernbach tried to calm the discussion, and later banned JM Roth from the page.
"We don't allow posts on our page that call for violence, including hitting protesters with cars, so we're taking this comment down," Dernbach posted .
St. Paul police confirmed Monday that an officer was placed on paid administrative leave because of the post about King Day marchers, but could not identify the officer because of legal protections in pending personnel matters.
Police spokesman Steve Linders said Thursday he could neither confirm nor deny whether that officer is being investigated for other Facebook comments.
St. Paul Police Federation spokesman Carl Kuhl said the November incident is "new information to the federation," and is being looked at. Neither the federation nor Rothecker had further statements to share Thursday through Kuhl.
A message left Thursday at a number listed for Rothecker was not immediately returned.
While noting that the case remains under investigation, the department and Mayor Chris Coleman released statements this week condemning the post regarding King Day marchers.
Citizen police watchdog Andrew Henderson reported that comment to police.
An excerpt of Rothecker's statement Wednesday read: "I am extremely sorry for what I did, I understand that the post was insensitive and wrong."
Records show there have been 15 complaints filed against Rothecker with the department's internal affairs unit. Seven resulted in discipline.