Warning: This article contains disturbing content and obscene and offensive language.
The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners voted to censure Democratic Sheriff Dave Hutchinson Thursday and made public the results of a human resources investigation into his behavior.
Hutchinson’s career imploded in December 2021 when he was involved in a drunk-driving accident in his county-issued vehicle.
Following the accident, the DFL-endorsed sheriff became “angry and paranoid,” often disappearing for weeks at a time as members of his senior command staff grew worried about his mental health and “potential for self-harm,” according to the findings of the independent investigation.
Hutchinson’s erratic behavior escalated during an April 2022 meeting when he “yelled at and bullied” his command staff, causing one of them to start crying and two others to walk out, the report says.
He then threatened to retaliate against anyone who reported their concerns and frequently threatened to move employees “out of their positions,” the report adds.
At least four of his employees allegedly feared that he might “harm someone in his current state.” As an example, the report says the sheriff would occasionally place his hand on his gun when he saw someone he didn’t like and say, “Should we kill him?”
The investigation also found Hutchinson had a habit of “communicating in a demeaning and bullying way,” frequently sending racist and sexist texts and mocking people for being gay or overweight. Hutchinson himself is gay.
The report cites dozens of examples, including:
- On May 3, 2020, a command staff member asked Sheriff Hutchinson if he needed any information in preparation for a phone call with Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell. Hutchinson responded, “Idk. Maybe. F–k you-ya bald mumbling f—-t.”
- On Jan. 22, 2021, Sheriff Hutchinson sent a staffer a text message about a white female suburban city council member stating, “She dates Black guys I bet.”
- The sheriff would greet a staffer (who identifies as gay) by saying, “What’s up f—-t.”
- In front of a five-year-old boy who visited the sheriff’s office for his birthday, Sheriff Hutchinson referred to a member of the command staff as “the fat one” and the “office idiot.”
- Sheriff Hutchinson stated to a Black female staffer, “The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice.”
Nine of the 10 witnesses who were interviewed for the report expressed concern for Hutchinson’s “mental health and stability.”
Hutchinson did not seek reelection and will be replaced by Dawanna Witt in January.
The sheriff responded to the report in a lengthy statement shared with Alpha News Friday night.
“As one of the first openly gay sheriffs in the country and the first in Minnesota, I knew that I would have many detractors and people second guessing me every step of the way. In hindsight, I should have realized early on the sad reality that certain individuals who worked closest with me would never accept me, and anything I did would be taken out of context and misconstrued. All of these allegations, and that’s exactly what they are, ‘allegations,’ are false. The findings are incorrect, and were completely decided on by an ‘outside neutral investigator’ who made her decision before hearing from those she interviewed (and paid by Hennepin County Administration). If the workplace I provided for my employees in my internal office was so terrible, why wasn’t there any turnover in the office under my watch? Internal politics got the best of many inside my internal office late in my tenure and these individuals turned to dirty tactics like distortion, backstabbing, lying, and threatening others to save their careers by getting their own hand-picked successor installed and elected to sheriff. It’s really no surprise to me that the ‘woke’ faceless bureaucrats inside Hennepin County are pushing an agenda of hate.
Why kick a man when he is already down?
What will they do when I’m gone? Sadly, there is a long history of lack of teamwork and intimidation; not only to me, but to my predecessors as sheriff. The Hennepin County board should focus on what matters … their mission: The mission of Hennepin County is to enhance the health, safety and quality of life of our residents and communities in a respectful, efficient and fiscally responsible way.
As I maintain my sobriety (over a year) and work on bettering myself and others around me, I also battle daily with the mental health struggles of PTSD. I can’t help but question why people need to try to hurt my progress and my drive to be better.
I’ve admitted my poor decisions and mistakes — I wish I could continue to heal without fabricated reports and hate.
As the holiday season approaches us, I wish for forgiveness and unity. I also pray daily for the brave men and women in law enforcement as they fight daily to keep us safe.”
Read the full report here.