State trooper charged in Rochester crash that killed 18-year-old, injured others

State trooper charged in Rochester crash that killed 18-year-old, injured others

State trooper charged in Rochester crash that killed 18-year-old, injured others

Olmstead County Attorney Mark Ostrem on Tuesday announced that criminal charges have been filed against Minnesota State Trooper Shane Elroy Roper, 32, for a crash in May that killed Olivia Flores, 18.

The charges include:

  • Second-degree manslaughter
  • Criminal vehicular homicide
  • Reckless driving
  • Five counts of criminal vehicular operation

Roper was charged via summons and is not yet in custody.

In a letter written Tuesday, the county attorney detailed how the crash happened on May 18, at the intersection of Apache Mall Dr. and 12th St. SW in Rochester.

Initial observations were that a Minnesota State Patrol unit driven by Roper had t-boned a Ford Focus and that one or both vehicles were then pushed into a Toyota Rav4. The Ford Focus had three occupants and the Rav4 had two occupants

All occupants of the Ford Focus and Rav4 were taken to the emergency department, where Flores later died, and five others were treated for serious injuries, including broken bones. Roper had only minor injuries.

The Rochester Police Department then began investigating the crash.

Court officials state that Roper was doing traffic enforcement on Highway 52 when he activated emergency lights and attempted to catch up to someone who had committed a petty traffic offense. The investigation found Roper had reached speeds up to 98 miles per hour before exiting onto 12th Street Southwest.

When driving onto eastbound 12th Street, the county attorney said Roper turned off his emergency lights and siren and accelerated to “full throttle,” reaching 83 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone as he approached the entrance of a nearby mall.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Roper, he thought his lights were still on.

A westbound Ford Focus then began to make a left turn into the mall, and Roper’s vehicle slammed into the passenger side of the Focus, pushing it into the Rav4.

Court documents state that Roper did not come off the full throttle until the Focus started to drive into the intersection approximately 1.4 seconds before impact. The documents also stated that Roper’s lights and siren were still off during the crash.

Roper also had a ride-along in his squad at the time of the crash. This person was also injured.

The criminal complaint notes that Roper has a history of being involved with crashes during his eight years with State Patrol.

Court documents add that four prior crashes he had been involved in while driving his squad car either due to inattentive driving or excessive speed.

The complaint also notes that in the three hours before the collision on May 18, it was discovered that Roper had accelerated to over 99 miles per hour on numerous occasions while attempting to initiate traffic stops for suspected petty traffic offenses.

The county attorney stated these actions had violated the State Patrol’s policy of high-speed driving and that his driving displayed gross negligence.

“Trooper Roper, violating his duty in such a gross fashion, caused the death of a young lady celebrating her impending graduation from high school,” County Attorney Mark Ostrem said in a written statement. “Several other persons suffered serious injury. Roper’s conduct violated the State Patrol’s Core Values. As with any other person driving recklessly and without regard to very basic rules of the road, Mr. Roper’s conduct cannot be tolerated.”

In response to the charges State Patrol Col. Christina Bogojevic released the following statement:

“We express our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Olivia Flores and to the other community members affected by the tragic fatal crash that occurred on May 18 in Rochester.

Today the Olmsted County Attorney’s Office announced charges against Trooper Shane Roper. The conduct alleged in the criminal complaint is concerning and does not align with the State Patrol’s core values. The announcement of charges marks the next steps in the judicial process related to this case. We respect that process and cannot comment further due to ongoing criminal proceedings.

In accordance with the troopers’ labor contract, Trooper Shane Roper remains on paid investigative leave.”

The family of Flores also released a statement, which can be read in full below: