Robbinsdale council member declines to resign, pleads not guilty in DWI case

Tyler Kline said his not-guilty plea is "part of the process" and not an attempt to "deny the recklessness of my behavior."

Tyler Kline

A Robbinsdale City Council member charged with drunkenly fleeing police has pleaded not guilty and resisted calls to resign.

Tyler Kline, 38, crashed his minivan near Highway 100 at Brooklyn Boulevard just after midnight Jan. 24 while driving the wrong way, according to a criminal complaint.

He then fled the scene of the accident and re-entered Highway 100 when a Crystal police officer noticed a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction.

The officer activated his emergency lights and attempted to block Kline from entering the highway, but Kline drove around the squad car, made “eye contact with the officer,” and then kept going, the complaint says.

He dodged one more police car before he was finally stopped, ignored several commands to exit his vehicle, and had to be “physically taken out of the driver’s seat,” according to the complaint.

The incident was captured on traffic cameras.

Kline has been charged with fleeing a police officer, a felony, and two DWI counts. He recently pleaded not guilty to the charges, prompting criticism from the public.

“It’s part of the process. At no point have we in front of anybody tried to deny the recklessness of my behavior on that day,” Kline said during a March 1 City Council meeting, indicating that he expects to reach a plea deal with the prosecution.

Kline has reportedly resigned from his position as a legislative aide for Democratic Sen. Ann Rest but has resisted calls to resign from the Robbinsdale City Council.

Some of those calls are coming from his fellow council members.

“If it was me, I would’ve already resigned. I think that’s the prudent thing to do. I think it’s the responsible and professional thing to do,” Council Member George Selman told Kline during a Feb. 2 meeting, shortly after Kline’s arrest.

Selman said he has spent countless hours “dealing with the situation you created,” referring to Kline.

“It’s time to make this less painful for the entire community and step aside,” he added.

Council Member Pat Backen echoed Selman’s remarks, saying Kline’s actions warrant resignation.

“Residents place their trust in us … and when that trust is breached it makes effective representation very difficult. An incident of this nature is just a tremendous breach of trust,” he said.

Both council members expressed that their comments weren’t personal and said they would be there for Kline to help him in his recovery.

Kline apologized profusely and acknowledged that he “did a pretty horrific thing.”

“I understand why there are people on this council or people in this community that are calling for me to resign. I really think that that is not the example I want to lead. I want to show people that you can fall and pick yourself up. You can get better and you can still do good in this community,” he said.

According to conversations among the council, several community members have also called for Kline’s resignation, but the public comment portion of council meetings is not made public online.

Kline could be forced from office if he is convicted of the felony charge. The city charter requires the council to declare a vacancy if a member is convicted of a felony, according to CCX Media. The council appears to be considering a formal censure of Kline, which would be mostly symbolic.

“I can’t deny how horrible it was that it happened and that I did it. I mean, I was the person there. There’s no arguing,” Kline said. “I mean, we’ve seen video and reports. But I can change the person that I am going forward.”

 

Anthony Gockowski

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