Minnesota police officer charged with manslaughter in crash that killed teen
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Minnesota police officer charged with manslaughter in crash that killed teen

Minnesota police officer charged with manslaughter in crash that killed teen

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Minnesota prosecutors have filed criminal charges against a police officer who allegedly caused a three-vehicle crash this spring that killed a woman and injured five other people.

Shane Elroy Roper, who was on duty at the time of the fatal crash, has been charged with speeding without lights or sirens in the May 18 crash that killed 18-year-old high school student Olivia Flores, Olmsted County District Attorney Mark Ostrem announced.

Roper, who suffered minor injuries in the crash, has been charged with second-degree murder and vehicular homicide in connection with Flores’ death, as well as numerous driving offenses in connection with the other victims.

The crash happened just before 5:45 p.m. near a shopping center in the southeastern city of Rochester. Authorities say Roper, 32, was driving 83 mph in a 40 mph zone just before the crash, according to a criminal complaint obtained by USA TODAY.

“Roper, by so flagrantly violating his duties, caused the death of a young woman celebrating her upcoming high school graduation,” Ostrem said in a statement Tuesday.

98mph: Cop ‘accelerated to full throttle’

The preliminary investigation into the crash revealed that a Minnesota State Patrol vehicle driven by Roper was stopped on a highway on-ramp for a traffic stop when Roper activated his hazard lights and exited the on-ramp at a high rate of speed, reaching 98 mph, according to the affidavit, “in an attempt to catch up with the traffic violator,” before exiting onto 12th Street Southeast.

As he drove down the ramp onto the street, Roper turned off his emergency lights and sirens and accelerated to maximum speed, reaching a speed of 83 mph as he approached the intersection leading to the Apache Mall, the statement continued.

The police car sideswiped a Ford Focus at the entrance to the shopping mall and then one or both vehicles were pushed onto a Toyota Rav4.

“The investigation found that PC Roper did not release the accelerator until the Focus entered the intersection, approximately 1.4 seconds before impact,” the statement read.

A police officer in a fatal Minnesota crash hit speeds of 135 mph earlier in the day.

Emergency personnel extricated and provided medical aid to the occupants of the Focus and Rav4, prosecutors said. All victims in the two vehicles were taken to a hospital, where Flores died several hours later.

The other five victims suffered serious injuries, including broken bones and other serious injuries, Ostrem said.

The investigation revealed that on at least four occasions earlier in the day, Roper also “drove at a high rate of speed without his hazard warning lights, on one occasion reaching speeds of 135 mph and on other occasions exceeding 99 mph,” the affidavit continues. “On each of these occasions, Roper either failed to activate his hazard warning lights or deactivated them while maintaining his extreme speed.”

According to the indictment, Roper gave a statement to investigators several weeks after the crash and said he was trying to “close the gap” between his patrol car and the vehicle he suspected of violating traffic laws.

Roper, the complaint continues, stated that the pursuit was not active and that he was not paying attention to his speed.

“When asked about the operation of the emergency lights, Roper stated he believed the lights were still on when he was on 12th Street SW. Roper stated he was attempting to exit the intersection before entering it,” court documents show.

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Police officer charged in crash that killed Olivia Flores to appear in court on August 29

Court documents filed in the case did not identify an attorney representing Roper. Roper was on paid administrative leave Wednesday, officials said.

USA TODAY reached out to state police.

Although the complaint did not specify Roper’s bail amount, he remained free on bail Wednesday. His first court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 29.

Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her at X @nataliealund.