VIDEO: RPD officer cleared in fatal shooting of axe-wielding man

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(ABC 6 News) – A Rochester police officer has been cleared in the fatal shooting of an axe-wielding man who allegedly robbed a Domino’s Pizza on S. Broadway in Rochester in July 2022.

RELATED: Ax-wielding man fatally shot by Rochester Police during traffic stop

**To view body camera and squad car video of the incident, CLICK HERE** (WARNING: Viewer discretion is advised)

The Mower County Attorney’s Office reviewed the investigation at the request of the Olmsted County Attorney’s Office to determine if any charges should be filed against the officer involved, Michael Bottcher, Jr.

Mower County was asked to conduct the review to avoid any potential conflicts due to the close working relationship between the Olmsted County Attorney’s Office and the Rochester Police Department. “It is a long-standing protocol for the Olmsted County Attorney to ask peer counties to assist when a conflict of interest may be present,” according to the Olmsted County Attorney’s office

RELATED: BCA investigating fatal officer involved shooting in Rochester

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 officer Bottcher, Jr.

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.”

Rochester Police Chief Jim Franklin shares, “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. 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.”