State trooper charged with vehicular homicide in fatal Rochester crash – InForum
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State trooper charged with vehicular homicide in fatal Rochester crash – InForum

ROCHESTER — Olmsted County District Attorney Mark Ostrem announced Tuesday, July 9, that criminal charges have been filed against Shane Elroy Roper, the 32-year-old Minnesota State Trooper involved in a crash that injured five people and killed 18-year-old Olivia Flores.

According to the indictment, Roper is charged with one count of second-degree murder, one count of vehicular homicide and three counts of driving under the influence, which are felonies.

He was also charged with two serious driving offences, one count of serious careless driving and one count of careless driving.

The release said the Rochester Police Department said Roper turned on his emergency lights and drove off Sixth Street Southwest onto Highway 52 at 98 mph in an attempt to catch a traffic violator before turning onto 12th Street Southwest. He then turned off his emergency lights and sirens and accelerated to full speed, reaching 83 mph.

The speed limit on 12th Street Southwest is 40 miles per hour.

According to the criminal complaint, Roper quickly approached the intersection of Apache Drive Southwest, an area that includes the main entrance points to Apache Mall. The area tends to be “very busy … on a typical Saturday.”

When Roper’s car was 400 feet from the intersection, the patrol camera showed a green light for eastbound traffic. A larger SUV, also traveling eastbound, entered the left turn lane to enter Memorial Parkway Southwest, blocking the view of vehicles turning onto Apache Drive Southwest, the complaint said.

A Ford Focus with three occupants was in the turning lane attempting to proceed through the intersection.

“Due to Roper’s excessive speed (he was traveling 83 mph and had been driving at full throttle until 1.4 seconds prior to impact) as the Ford Focus entered the intersection, Roper was unable to brake sufficiently or steer to avoid the collision,” the complaint states.

Roper’s patrol car struck the passenger side of a Ford Focus traveling at least 55 mph. The impact sent both cars east through the intersection, where they collided with a Toyota Rav4. There were two people in the Toyota.

Witnesses told police the oncoming vehicle was “flying.” Witnesses did not see or hear emergency lights or sirens.

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The scene of a multi-vehicle crash at the intersection of Memorial Parkway Southwest and 12th Street Southwest, just north of Apache Mall, on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

Maya Giron / Post Bulletin

The rear-seat passenger in the Ford Focus died from blunt force trauma during the crash, the complaint said. That person was previously identified as Flores, an Owatonna teen just days away from graduating from high school.

According to the complaint, the driver of the Ford Focus suffered a lacerated liver, a lacerated kidney and numerous other minor injuries. The front passenger suffered a fractured pelvis, a lacerated kidney and other minor injuries. The occupants of the Toyota Rav4 suffered physical pain as a result of the collision. Roper had a passenger in his patrol car who suffered rib contusions and multiple fractures as a result of the crash.

Several weeks after the incident, Roper confirmed to law enforcement that he was trying to “close the gap” between his patrol car and a vehicle suspected of violating traffic laws. Roper said it was not an active pursuit and that he was not paying attention to speed. He told police he believed his lights were on.

Law enforcement revealed that three hours before the May 18 collision, Roper accelerated to more than 99 mph in an attempt to initiate a traffic stop. Roper consistently reached and maintained high speeds, never turning on or off his hazard lights, and was traveling at high speeds.

The complaint also said that on May 18, Roper was driving 135 mph in a 55 mph zone while responding to a medical call.

“On the way to the scene, the man told the passenger that he likely would not need medical attention and that driving in such a manner was normal behavior for him,” the complaint reads.

A news release from the Olmsted County Attorney’s Office said the Minnesota State Highway Patrol has specific guidelines and rules regarding high-speed driving.

“Over the course of his eight-year career, Officer Roper has attended approximately 13 driving courses totaling 107 hours,” the release reads.

Olmsted County District Attorney Mark Ostrem said in a statement that Roper’s “conduct cannot be tolerated.”

“Trooper Roper, in such a flagrant violation of his duties, caused the death of a young lady celebrating her upcoming high school graduation. Several other individuals suffered serious injuries. Roper’s conduct violated the core values ​​of the State Patrol,” Ostrem said in a statement.

Col. Christina Bogojevic, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol, issued a statement expressing her condolences to the Flores family and those affected by the tragic accident.

“The alleged conduct in the criminal complaint is disturbing and inconsistent with the core values ​​of the State Patrol. The announcement of the charges represents the next steps in the legal process related to this matter. We respect that process and cannot comment further due to the ongoing criminal proceedings,” Bogojevic said in a statement.

Roper remains on paid investigative leave in accordance with the officers’ employment agreements.