Judge declines to authorize release of video from Sen. Nicole Mitchell’s arrest

The Upper Midwest Law Center filed the complaint on behalf of Alpha News in late April after Mitchell was arrested on first-degree burglary charges.

Sen. Nicole Mitchell appears with attorney Bruce Ringstrom Jr. before the Senate Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct in May. (Minnesota Senate Media Services)

Becker County Judge Gretchen Thilmony has rejected a lawsuit filed by Alpha News seeking to authorize the release of body camera video from Minnesota Sen. Nicole Mitchell’s April arrest.

“Under these facts, the rights of an accused in an active criminal proceeding outweigh the public’s interest in seeing the body-cam footage (only a portion of the evidence in the criminal case) prior to trial. The motion for release of the body cam footage is denied,” Thilmony wrote in an order issued Wednesday.

The Upper Midwest Law Center filed the complaint on behalf of Alpha News in late April after Mitchell was arrested on first-degree burglary charges. The first-term Democrat from Woodbury allegedly broke into her stepmother’s Detroit Lakes home in the middle of the night dressed in all black and carrying a modified flashlight. Mitchell said she was seeking several items related to her late father including pictures, a flannel shirt, and her father’s ashes, according to the charges.

Since then, Sen. Mitchell and her attorney have made public statements that conflict with the details outlined in the criminal complaint.

“Over the weekend, I learned of medical information which caused me grave concern and prompted me to check on that family member. I entered a home I have come and gone from countless times in the past 20 years, where my son even once had his own room. Unfortunately, I startled this close relative, exacerbating paranoia, and I was accused of stealing, which I absolutely deny,” Mitchell said in a social media post shortly after her arrest.

Hence, Alpha News sought the release of bodycam video from Mitchell’s arrest to help the public gain a better understanding of what happened.

Additionally, since the incident, Mitchell’s stepmother has told the media that she believes Mitchell meant her “physical harm.”

“She was dressed like a burglar at the foot of my bed … I get goosebumps just talking about it,” Carol Mitchell told KSTP, acknowledging that she was “very recently diagnosed with very early stages of Alzheimer’s.”

Since her arrest, Mitchell has resisted bipartisan calls for her resignation and was the deciding vote on major pieces of legislation in the 2024 session’s closing days.

“The questions Alpha News seeks to answer will by necessity be answered through the channels of the justice system, either in a court or jury trial or by the investigation becoming inactive through a plea agreement or other mechanism. Circumventing these proceedings is an extraordinary measure that the legislature has plainly prohibited in all but the most important circumstances,” Thilmony said in her ruling.

James Dickey, senior trial counsel for the Upper Midwest Law Center, said he is disappointed with the court’s decision and is considering whether to appeal.

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Anthony Gockowski
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Anthony Gockowski is Editor-in-Chief of Alpha News. He previously worked as an editor for The Minnesota Sun and Campus Reform, and wrote for the Daily Caller.