Two Marshall police officers are accused of embellishing their witness accounts in a case last year, according to the Saline County prosecutor.
On the evening of May 13, 2015, officers Tyler Newell and Josh O'Bryan pulled up to a Chrysler 300C parked at the Walmart on S. Cherokee Drive to arrest Carl Roettgen who was wanted on a warrant.
In a statement filed in court, the officers said as they walked up, Roettgen began to back up the car.
Officer Newell said he asked the man in the passenger seat to get out of the car, and the man complied.
Officer Newell then stated in the probable cause statement he "entered the vehicle through the opened front passenger side door in an attempt to put the gear shift into park. Officer Newell stated he looked up at Mr. Roettgen and saw a black in color handgun barrel pointed approximately one inch away from his face. Officer Newell stated he heard a loud click, which he believed Mr. Roettgen was attempting to shoot him with the handgun. Officer Newell described the handgun, as a semi-automatic. Officer Newell stated he exited the vehicle, removed his service pistol, and discharged one round at the fleeing vehicle."
"It's the story that the Marshall, Missouri police department stuck with; until this day they have not contradicted that story," John James, Roettgen's defense attorney, said.
In a Walmart surveillance video, the car's passenger door is closed as Roettgen drives off as officers chase the car.
As Saline County Prosecutor Donald Stouffer prepared for the trial set for August 23, he said he noticed the discrepancy between the video and the statement.
It forced him to drop a majority of the charges filed against Roettgen, who was arrested in Alabama after a massive manhunt.
"Mr. Roettgen made a very poor decision trying to run from officers when he was being arrested. The officer trying to arrest him made a poor decision by discharging his weapon inappropriately and then he made a terrible decision by lying to cover it up," James said.
In a statement Stouffer said this is the first time in his 28 years as a prosecutor that he's dismissed charges because the testimony from an officer lacked credibility.
"I don't mean this as an indictment of every officer there and that's the sad part -- it's hard to know which ones were complicit and which ones weren't," James said.
Roettgen was sentenced Monday to four years in prison for fleeing the officers.
Stouffer said he now plans to review other cases where the two officers were key witnesses.
Besides telling 41 Action News the officers are on paid administrative leave, the police department declined to comment any further on the case.
Andres Gutierrez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org