Jefferson City officials respond to Rasmussen report
Thu, 25 Feb 2010 23:11:50 GMT —
Mayor John Landwehr, City Counselor Nathan Nickolaus, and Chief of Police Roger Schroeder have issued the following statement Thursday, Feb. 25:
We are pleased that this investigation has been concluded and that Steve Rasmussen has been cleared. We thank Trooper Lowary for a thorough investigation and a very professional report. Our expressed desire throughout this process has been to be as fair and as transparent as the law would allow. We believe that publication of this report achieves both of those goals.
Unfortunately, many remarks have been made based on conclusions which are not supported by the facts found in the investigation.
We want to make clear that there was no effort of any kind to hinder the police investigation.
When the incident happened the officers involved felt the need to call the Chief of Police to receive guidance as to how they should proceed. Pursuant to protocol, the Chief contacted the City Attorney, who in turn contacted the Mayor. The Mayor, the City Attorney, and the Police Chief all believed that the matter should be handled as it would in any other case. Chief Schroeder believed that proper police procedure would not include confronting Mr. Rasmussen that night. The officers were told to collect physical evidence which they did. It was Chief Schroeder TMs belief, based on many years of police work, that physical evidence would be determinative in this case. The report proves that this assumption was correct.
All of those involved in the decision were well acquainted with criminal law and it was obvious from the outset that there was no possibility of a prosecution for a DWI since by the time the police arrived he had already entered his home. Any blood alcohol tests taken at such a point would have been clearly unusable.
Contrary to certain assertions that have been made, there is no contention that the paint chip tests were inconclusive or that there were any errors made in the chain of custody. In fact the report clearly states the [victim TMs vehicle] transfer paint did not originate from the Rasmussen vehicle. The report also found that the paint on Rasmussen TMs vehicle was not consistent with the paint from the victim TMs vehicle.
We encourage everyone in the community to read the report. We believe that once individuals have had an opportunity to read the report, all questions will be answered.
We wish to thank Mr. Rasmussen for his cooperation and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused him.
The report is finished, but one Jefferson City council member is still demanding answers.
A Highway Patrol investigation of city administrator Steve Rasmussen, who was found asleep in his car by city firefighters last month, said police chief Roger Schroeder told his officers not to question Rasmussen about a hit and run accident that happened that night, nor about possibly driving while intoxicated.
While the Highway Patrol's report cleared Steve Rasmussen of the hit and run accident, it raised questions about why police officers didn't question him about drunk driving.
Officers at the scene suspected Rasmussen was drunk when he was found asleep behind the wheel of his parked car, even reporting that they saw him stumble up the stairs to his home.
But Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson said we will never know if that was true or not beacause under the police chief's order, officers did not interview Rasmussen that night or conduct a breathalizer or field sobriety checks.
"We need to all thoroughly read that report and get all of the information," Fourth Ward Jefferson City Council Member Carrie Carroll said. "So that's the key. We, like everybody else, would like to know what's going on and get the information. So that's where we're at right now."
Carroll said she is concerned that the prosectuor believes three Jefferson City officials: Mayor John Landwehr, city attorney Nathan Nickolaus, and police chief Roger Schroeder blocked this investigation.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) issued a statement Thursday that said they are disappointed with the way officials of Jefferson City handled the initial investigation of Rasmussen.
The men shared phone calls the night Rasmussen was found asleep in his car. Landwehr and Nickolaus also questioned Rasmussen the next day at City Hall.
Landwehr and Nickolaus said they did not interfere with police work.
The prosecutor said his involvement in this case is over, and that it's now up to city officials if they choose to investigate.
"The prosecutor has made his decision, so now I do believe the council still has work to do to look into this and see what our options are and look at our policies and look at conduct and really get some answers," Carroll said.Steve Rasmussen did issue a statement Thursday.
The statement said the investigation, "...found that I had done nothing wrong. Of course, I already knew this, but I am relieved to have this matter behind me."
Rasmussen said he did not know he was also being investigated for driving drunk.
"I was not intoxicated at any point on Jan. 15, and I am surprised at the implication that I was," Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen said he has a sleep disorder that causes him to doze off in unusual places. He said that is why he was asleep in his car.