Case closed: No charges against Rasmussen
Wed, 24 Feb 2010 21:51:20 GMT —
A top Jefferson City official under investigation for hitting a parked car and leaving the scene will not faces charges.
A month-long highway patrol investigation wrapped up Tuesday with a 44-page report. It concluded the paint transfers "did not originate" from City Administrator Steve Rasmussen's car. The prosecutor says there is not enough evidence and no charges will be filed.
The investigation stems from a January 15 hit and run accident on Hart Street. Last month, the city's lawyer said there was "circumstantial evidence" linking Rasmussen TMs car with that of the accident victim's, specifically scratches and paint swapping.
The highway patrol analyzed paint samples taken from both cars and said the results cleared Rasmussen. Two of the paint samples, however, were inconclusive because of cross-contamination.
Rasmussen was spotted "slumped" over the wheel of his car by firefighters responding to a medical call at the Salvation Army on Jefferson Street, according to the report. Rasmussen was parked in front of his house, which is across the street.
Some parts of Rasmussen's story are contradicted in the report.
Police officers on the scene suspected Rasmussen was intoxicated but no sobriety tests were taken.
Rasmussen has always maintained his innocence.
Timeline of events
The report says Rasmussen left work around 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 15 and stopped on the way home at O'Donahue's where he ordered a whiskey and did work at the bar.
Once home, Rasmussen met up with his daughter and drove to Madison's Cafe for a dinner party around 7 p.m. with 10 other people. The group stayed until about 9 p.m.
Receipts indicate the group consumed a bottle of wine and various other drinks.
At about 9:15 p.m., city firefighters responded to a medical emergency at the Salvation Army on Jefferson Street. While there, they noticed Rasmussen passed out in his car, slumped over the steering wheel. Firefighters tried to wake him up and police were called to the scene.
The report says Rasmussen got out of the car slowly, had trouble gaining his balance and fumbled for his keys.
Rasmussen told officers he had fallen asleep watching the fire trucks.
Questioned later, his daughter indicated Rasmussen had a sleeping disorder and could fall asleep in unusual places. Police and firefighters told investigators Rasmussen appeared intoxicated but no sobriety tests were conducted.
Police officers said the damage to Rasmussen's car appeared "fresh" and "recent." However, the only accident Rasmussen could recall getting into was backing into a pile of bricks.
"The tire marks and the positioning of the bricks are not consistent with the damage to Rasmussen's vehicle," the report said. "The primary damage to Rasmussen's vehicle is located ahead of the front tire and obviously occurred as his vehicle was traveling forward at a moderate speed."
Rasmussen's blue 2005 Ford is pretty banged up for a number of prior accidents. The patrol's report says the police chief ordered his officers to take photos and collect evidence from the car but told them not to interview him that night.
The decision to involve the patrol in the investigation was made the following day.
Forensic tests on the two cars concluded it was not Rasmussen's car. However, two paint samples from the victim's car and Rasmussen's car could have been contaminated so "no conclusions could be drawn from their analysis."
The report says Rasmussen refused a polygraph unless his lawyers were present, which police wouldn't allow.
The case is now considered close.