Judge denies request to dismiss charge against Hastings police officerArea News
-- The misdemeanor theft case against Hastings Police Officer Rene Doffing will go to trial.
By: Jane Lightbourn , Pierce County Herald
The misdemeanor theft case against Hastings Police Officer Rene Doffing will go to trial.
Last week, Dakota County District Judge Michael Mayer denied the defense’s motion to dismiss the charge. Mayer also ruled that a theft could occur regardless of whether Doffing left the restaurant with or without the corkscrew. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge
No trial date has been set.
Doffing allegedly stole a corkscrew from a Hastings restaurant in November 2010. An off-duty Dakota County deputy saw a man enter the restaurant/bar and order a soda. The man, later identified as Doffing, allegedly reached across the bar when the bartender turned his back to get the drink.
The deputy said he saw Doffing grab a corkscrew and put it in his pocket.
The deputy told the bartender, who told his manager. The manager confronted Doffing about the corkscrew. He then gave it to the manager. About a year ago, Doffing was put on paid administrative assignment as the case was investigated.
Doffing was formally charged in the corkscrew case on Jan. 7, 2011. He pleaded not guilty on Feb. 9, 2011 and a pre-trial hearing was held March 15. Another pre-trial hearing was held in June. Doffing's defense ultimately asked for emails within the police department to be turned over.
Doffing’s attorney, Paul Engh, has said in the past that there’s no evidence a crime was even committed. He said the corkscrew didn’t have any value and never even left the restaurant.
While this case has proceeded, the department has operated one officer short. If Doffing is ultimately convicted of theft, he would lose his peace officer's license, and it is expected the department would replace him.
If he is found not guilty, Doffing would presumably get his previous job back on the force.
Jane Lightbourn is a staff writer for the Hastings Star Gazette.