Officer cleared in shooting of ax-wielding man
ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The review of an officer involved in a shooting on July 30, 2022 concluded that the officer had no option other than the use of deadly force.
According to Rochester Police Department (RPD), the Mower County Attorney’s Office reviewed a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) investigation of the shooting and found no evidence to support any criminal charges against the officer.
“We have such a close, working relationship with Olmsted County. They asked Mower County to review this again for the purpose of an additional independent layer of review,” RPD Chief Jim Franklin said.
The Attorney’s Office found no evidence to support any criminal charges against the officer under Minnesota Statute that says officers are justified in using deadly force when it is necessary to protect the officer or another from apparent death or great bodily harm.
In a letter to the BCA, Mower County Attorney Kristen M. Nelsen explained that the opinion was based on facts from the investigation including:
- A man with an axe robbed a Domino’s Pizza and fled in a van around 11 pm on July 29, 2022.
- Officer Michael Bottcher observed the van from the robbery a couple hours later and conducted a traffic stop on the southbound ramp from Highway 63 to Highway 52.
- The driver, later identified as Joshua Hippler, jumped out of the van swinging an axe and began advancing toward the officer.
- The officer repeatedly gave commands for Mr. Hippler to drop the axe and get back into the van.
- Mr. Hippler began zig zagging toward the officer, swinging the axe and yelling at the officer to kill him.
- The officer retreated backwards and gave more commands to drop the axe before he shot Mr. Hippler.
- Other officers arrived on the scene almost immediately and began rendering medical aid to Mr. Hippler.
Nelsen wrote in the letter, “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.”
Since the shooting, Officer Bottcher has been on administrative leave, with RPD regularly checking in.
“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,” Chief 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.”
GRAPHIC AND LANGUAGE WARNING: Body camera and squad car video from officer involved shooting can be seen below.
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