Rochester Police Officer Cleared in Fatal Shooting of Axe-Wielding Man (VIDEO)
Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - A review of an officer involved-shooting in Rochester concluded that the Rochester Police Department Officer had no other option other than the use of deadly force during an incident involving an axe-wielding suspect in July.
The Mower County Attorney’s Office reviewed a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation of a shooting that took place on July 30th, 2022 on the southbound ramp from Highway 63 to Highway 52. Attorney Kristen Nelson wrote in a letter to the BCA that the office found no evidence to support any criminal charges against the officer.
A few hours before the deadly shooting, a man with an axe allegedly robbed a Domino’s Pizza and fled in a van around 11 p.m on July 29th.
A few hours later, Rochester Police Officer Michael Bottcher observed the van from the robbery and conducted a traffic stop on the southbound ramp of Highway 63 to Highway 52 around 12:45 a.m. on July 30th.
The driver of the van, identified as Joshua Hippler, jumped out of the van swinging an axe and began advancing toward Officer Bottcher. Body camera footage shows the officer repeatedly giving commands to Hippler to drop the axe and get back into the van.
Hippler began zig-zagging toward the officer, swinging the axe and yelling at the officer to kill him. Officer Bottcher retreated backward and gave more commands to drop the axe before firing one shot. Officer Bottcher then paused his shooting. In the body camera footage released it appeared the shot hit Hippler, but he continued to advance and refused to drop the axe. He yelled at Officer Bottcher to “finish it.”
Hippler continued to advance toward Officer Bottcher, swinging the axe. Officer Bottcher then fired approximately five additional shots. Hippler fell to the ground but held on to the axe.
Other RPD officers arrived at the scene almost immediately. They cleared the axe from Hippler and began rendering medical aid.
Hippler was transported to Mayo Clinic Emergency Room where he died from his injuries.
In a letter to the BCA, Mower County Attorney Kristen Nelsen wrote:
“In this case, the facts show that Officer Bottcher clearly acted reasonably when using deadly force. He reasonably believed it was necessary to protect his life and the lives of others arriving in the area.”
You can view the entire letter from the Mower County Attorney's Office here.
Rochester Police Chief Jim Franklin said that no officer wants to find themselves in this situation.
“In these incredibly unfortunate situations that force officers to make split-second decisions, the officer did what he had to do and what he was trained to do for his own personal safety and the safety of the public,” Franklin said. “These situations are very stressful and taxing on the officer, the agency, and the community. Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Mr. Hippler.”
Below is the body camera footage released to the public. Viewer discretion is advised.
Officer Bottcher was placed on administrative leave, following standard operating procedure. RPD is now in the process of returning the officer back to work.
Franklin said RPD is following a soft approach to bringing Officer Bottcher back.
“There is a whole process in place to include a soft approach, getting him caught up on some policies and procedures,” Franklin said. “He will also receive additional training and as well as making sure that his wellness is okay.”
Franklin said Officer Bottcher is expected to return to regular duty in the next couple of weeks.