By Associated Press
EVERETT, Wash. – The man who fatally shot an Everett, Wash., police officer last year was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Richard Rotter, 51, apologized during his sentencing for killing Officer Dan Rocha, 41, in a Starbucks parking lot in Everett, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Seattle, when Rocha tried to arrest him, the Daily Herald reported.
“My sincere apologies to the Rocha family and my family and everyone that this has affected,” Rotter said. “I pray for everyone’s continued healing and restored peace. I ask you and everyone (to) please forgive me.”
During the sentencing, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Bruce I. Weiss called the fatal shooting a “brutal execution.”
The courtroom was packed with Everett police, the city’s mayor and others.
Earlier this month, a jury found Rotter guilty of aggravated first-degree murder, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession with intent to manufacture or distribute methamphetamine, fentanyl and heroin and attempting to elude police.
Rocha was on duty on March 25, 2022, waiting for a cup of coffee when he saw Rocha move weapons between two cars in the parking lot, prosecutors said. Rotter, of Kennewick, Wash., had traveled to Everett, where he planned to buy a car, court documents said.
Rocha turned on his body camera and calmly engaged with Rotter, asking for his identification, according to court documents. Rocha learned that Rotter had prior felony convictions and was not supposed to have a gun, the documents say. He also learned that he had a warrant out for his arrest.
Rocha tried to take Rotter into custody, according to court documents, but Rotter shot Rocha five times with a gun he had hidden in a shoulder holster. Rocha had patted Rotter’s waistband but had not found Rotter’s firearm, according to court documents. Rocha died at the scene.
Rotter then fled in a car and was arrested nearby after causing a three-vehicle crash.
Rotter’s public defender, Natalie Tarantino, has said her client had “no plan” to kill, but that a combination of drug use and post-traumatic stress led him to shoot Rocha.
Court records show Rotter had prior felony convictions, including about a dozen felonies, mostly in Southeast Washington. Many of those cases were related to illegal drugs, and several involved eluding police, according to court records.
Rocha’s sister, Morgen Henry, said in court that her brother was dedicated, supportive and a natural protector.