Richard James Rotter (right), who is accused of killing Everett police officer Dan Rocha, appears in court via video Monday at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Richard James Rotter (right), who is accused of killing Everett police officer Dan Rocha, appears in court via video Monday at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Suspect in killing of Everett officer was wanted on warrants

Richard Rotter’s bail was set at $5 million. A police report reveals more about his encounter with officer Dan Rocha.

EVERETT — A man accused of shooting and killing Everett police officer Dan Rocha was spotted moving guns between two cars just before he opened fire, according to newly released court documents.

Richard James Rotter, 50, appeared via video from the Snohomish County Jail for a bail hearing on Monday. Everett District Court Judge Tam Bui set bail at $5 million.

A police report filed in Everett District Court sheds new light on what led to the shooting.

At 2:04 p.m. Friday, Rocha advised dispatch he was checking on “suspicious circumstances” at the Starbucks parking lot at 1010 N. Broadway, according to the report. Rocha reportedly saw Rotter moving guns from one car to another. The dispatcher informed the officer that there were misdemeanor warrants for Rotter’s arrest and that he had a felony conviction.

Cellphone video taken by a witness shows Rocha trying to detain Rotter, according to the report. The two wrestle, then fall to the pavement behind a Mini Cooper. Rotter pulls out a handgun and allegedly fires at least twice at Rocha’s head.

A second cellphone video reportedly shows officer Rocha’s body on the ground behind the Mini Cooper. The Mini Cooper, allegedly driven by Rotter, then accelerates backward, over Rocha’s body, according to documents.

Witnesses told The Daily Herald that the Mini Cooper took off west on 10th Street, going fast through an intersection, then turning south. The car had lost a bumper, witnesses said.

A “help the officer” call went out to police at 2:12 p.m.

Three minutes later, Everett police found the Mini Cooper westbound on Hewitt Avenue, running through lights.

About 2½ miles from the scene of the shooting, the Cooper collided with a van and another car at 35th Street and Rucker Avenue. No substantial injuries were reported in the wreck.

At 2:18 p.m., dispatch confirmed the suspect was in custody.

Richard Rotter

Richard Rotter

Rotter complained of hip and leg pain, according to documents. He was taken to the emergency room at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. He was cleared for booking a few hours later.

Then detectives interviewed him at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. The police report obtained by The Herald does not share any details about that interview.

He was booked into the Snohomish County Jail on Saturday at 1:30 a.m. for investigation of first-degree murder of a police officer with a gun and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

The misdemeanor warrants for Rotter were issued July 2 for hit-and-run and Dec. 7 for domestic violence assault. The assault was alleged to have happened months earlier. Both warrants were issued in Benton County, east of the Cascade Range. Kennewick police had alerted officers that Rotter might try to go by a different name. He was well known to law enforcement there, Kennewick police Cmdr. Aaron Clem said.

Court records show Rotter has an extensive criminal history in the state from the 1980s to at least 2019, mostly in Benton and Franklin counties. Many of those cases were related to drugs. His only felony conviction in Snohomish County was for a controlled substance violation in 1992.

He was also found guilty of attempting to elude police three times in the past decade: in 2013, 2016 and 2019.

In the 2013 and 2019 cases, he drove into patrol cars as he escaped. No injuries were reported in either of those incidents.

The Everett police report noted Rotter’s license was suspended or revoked. He was no longer under Department of Corrections supervision at the time of the shooting.

His last known address was in Kennewick. It was unclear how or why he was in Everett.

Everett Police Officer Dan Rocha on patrol the morning of March 25, just hours before he was shot and killed. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Everett Police Officer Dan Rocha on patrol the morning of March 25, just hours before he was shot and killed. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell expects to file charges in Superior Court in the coming days.

On Sunday, officer Rocha’s body was transported from the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office to a private funeral home, led by the Everett Police Honor Guard.

Rocha, 41, joined the Everett Police Department as a parking enforcement officer in 2017. A year later he was promoted to patrol, where he worked a beat in north Everett. He leaves a wife and two sons.

Details about a memorial have not been announced.

The investigation into Rocha’s death is being led by the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, a task force of detectives who typically look into police use of force. However, according to a news release Monday, SMART detectives determined there was no police use of force that merited review of the case.

On Monday, detectives asked for help from anyone who might have more information as to what happened before, during and after the encounter. Anyone with home or business surveillance video between the 1000 block of N. Broadway and the 3500 block of Rucker Avenue are asked to check for relevant activity that took place Friday between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. — including anything involving a dark-blue Mini Cooper and, before the shooting, a silver Ford Fusion, which might be related to the suspect.

Tips can be directed to the sheriff’s office tip line at 425-388-3845.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

Donate to officer Dan Rocha’s memorial fund

The Everett Police Department is asking for donations to a memorial fund created in partnership with Victim Support Services, Coastal Community Bank and the city of Everett. All of the money will go to honoring Rocha.

Donations can be made online at app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/FamiliesFriendsCopy/DanRochaMemorialFund.html.

All branches of Coastal Community Bank are accepting donations of checks and cash to the fund. Make checks payable to “VSS-Dan Rocha Memorial.”

The city of Everett will also accept checks or cash donations at the Clerk’s Office, 2930 Wetmore Ave., Suite 1-A. The office will accept walk-ins 8 a.m. to noon, Monday through Thursday. Appointments can also be made between noon and 1 p.m. by calling 425-257-8610.

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