Police association urges Thompson to release footage of police encounter

The police chief called the incident a "slap in the face" to officers "working in good faith to make our city safer for everyone."

Rep. John Thompson speaks with reporters at the Hennepin County Courthouse in July after a jury found him guilty of obstruction. (Rebecca Brannon/Twitter)

State Rep. John Thompson has responded to allegations from St. Paul police that he “bullied” officers as they were investigating his 26-year-old daughter during a DUI traffic stop.

“As an elected official I certainly would not attempt to misuse, intimidate or bully police officers with my official position,” he said in a Tuesday morning statement. “I responded as any concerned father would, arriving at a chaotic scene to help deal with my frightened daughter, who was having a verifiable mental health episode, which was triggered by the large presence of the [St. Paul Police Department].”

On Sunday St. Paul police officers pulled over Rep. Thompson’s adult daughter for a moving violation. She refused to roll down her window and identify herself, and officers didn’t learn she was Thompson’s daughter until he arrived on scene and told them she was “afraid of police,” according to a report obtained by Alpha News.

But there was much more to the incident, a source told Alpha News.

“Thompson drives up to the scene, parks illegally [and] starts yelling at officers right away,” the source said, adding that Thompson reportedly gave the officers his business card.

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell also described the incident on Facebook, calling it an “outrageous scene” that “turned ugly fast.”

“While the officer was attempting to get the driver — whose license was suspended and who was driving with tabs that had been expired for two years — to cooperate and other officers backed her up, the driver’s father pulled up in another vehicle, jumped out and immediately began interfering by yelling and questioning the traffic stop and identifying himself as State Representative John Thompson,” said Axtell.

The police chief went on to call the incident a “slap in the face” to officers “working in good faith to make our city safer for everyone.”

Following the release of Thompson’s statement, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association formally asked him to release the police body camera footage of the incident.

The police group pointed out in a letter to Rep. Thompson that his account contradicts that of Police Chief Axtell, and reminded him that he has spearheaded efforts to make body-camera footage available to the public within 48 hours for certain police uses of force.

“Current state law allows the body worn camera footage of your incident to be made public with your agreement,” the letter reads. “We urge you to release the body worn camera footage immediately to [corroborate] your position and explanation. Another benefit would be to highlight the effectiveness of St. Paul’s police officers in de-escalation in a mental health situation, as you also noted in your statement.”

Officers allowed Thompson to take his daughter away instead of arresting her in order to defuse the situation. Police have requested charges against her for DUI test refusal and obstructing the legal process.

Last summer Gov. Tim Walz called on Thompson to release body cam footage of his interaction with the police during a traffic stop, an interaction Thompson attributed to “racism.”

It was eventually released and showed Thompson presenting officers with a Wisconsin driver’s license, triggering a new wave of scrutiny into the controversial legislator’s behavior.

Thompson has faced calls to resign because of past domestic abuse allegations and was removed from the House DFL caucus. He is up for reelection in November.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.