Man accused of killing police officer charged with murder

April 16, 2022 GMT

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — The Snohomish County Prosecutors’ Office has officially filed charges against a man accused of fatally shooting Everett police officer Dan Rocha last month.

Richard Rotter, 50, has been charged with aggravated first-degree murder, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture or deliver, The Daily Herald reported. His arraignment hearing is scheduled for April 19.

In the two vehicles Rotter used that day, police said they found a rifle, two kinds of ammunition and 1,950 pills “consistent with fentanyl,” along with what appeared to be heroin and methamphetamine.

Around 2 p.m. March 25, Rocha was working his patrol shift when he went into a Starbucks, according to the charging documents signed by deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson. While waiting for his coffee, Rocha noticed Rotter moving guns and items from a Mini Cooper into a Ford Fusion, documents said.

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Rocha, 41, turned on his body-worn camera, telling dispatch he was checking on “suspicious” circumstances. He asked for a backup officer, and a police sergeant said he’d be there shortly. In the meantime, Rocha approached Rotter and asked about the guns. The interaction was caught on camera, Matheson wrote.

Rotter claimed he had just bought the Ford Fusion.

Rotter gave Rocha his ID, and a dispatcher told Rocha there was a domestic violence assault warrant for Rotter’s arrest and that he had a previous felony conviction, the charges say. Rocha reportedly told Rotter he was not free to leave because he was now under investigation for suspicion of unlawfully having a firearm. Rotter became agitated, Matheson wrote.

Rotter reportedly moved toward the Ford. The officer told him to put his hands behind his back, and tried to put him in handcuffs, but the two two wrestled and fell to the pavement, according to the charges.

“Five distinct ‘pops’ can be heard until officer Rocha’s body camera ends up facing upwards, motionless, and you can see (Rotter) stand up and go towards the Mini Cooper,” Matheson wrote. “The car starts, backs over Rocha, obstructing the view momentarily, and then speeds off.”

Rocha was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the charges, the Mini Cooper ran two red lights and crashed into two other vehicles. Police then arrested Rotter, who suffered no injuries.

Rotter, who has a lengthy criminal history, had told at least two people recently that he never wanted to go back to prison, according to the charging documents.

Rotter remained in custody Friday at the Snohomish County Jail with bail set at $5 million. It wasn’t immediately known if Rotter has a lawyer to comment on the case.

Rocha became a fully commissioned police officer in Everett in 2018. He is survived by a wife and two children.