‘They beat us down’: Sheriff slams Minnesota’s DFL leadership following Burnsville shooting

Sheriff Knudson said he was speaking out because he knows "so many law enforcement officers in Minnesota feel this way, but they can’t say it."

Sheriff Scott Knudson said he was speaking out because he knows “so many law enforcement officers in Minnesota feel this way but they can’t say it.” (St. Croix County Sheriff/Facebook)

The St. Croix County sheriff blasted Minnesota’s elected leaders in the wake of the shooting of three Burnsville first responders.

“This is a devastating loss. This is going to be a loss felt for years, if not into the next generation for many of these children that are impacted as well,” said Sheriff Scott Knudson in a video posted to Facebook.

Burnsville officers Paul Elmstrand, 27, and Matthew Ruge, 27, and firefighter/paramedic Adam Finseth, 40, were shot and killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic abuse call Feb. 18.

“The other emotion that these tragedies usually bubble up is a sense of disappointment and probably a little bit of anger towards some of the politicians,” said Knudson, a Wisconsin sheriff whose county borders Minnesota and who has a mutual aid agreement with Washington County. His employees often travel across the river to help out, he said.

Knudson referenced Gov. Tim Walz’s appearance at a press conference following the shooting, which he described as “disingenuous” and a “photo op.”

“As I watched the press conference, as Gov. Walz got up there, he was saying a bunch of the right things at the moment, but what struck me is several of the things that he was saying weren’t what we truly believe in our profession is how he truly feels,” Knudson said.

“He talks about training, equipping and supporting law enforcement. Well, I think he’s got two of those right. I don’t believe he has that much support for law enforcement and we’ve seen that.

“Over the last four years, a number of politicians have pushed us back into the corner, have knocked us down, have made statements that are not true, have come to conclusions before any of the evidence has been shown.”

A squad car sits covered in flowers outside of Burnsville City Hall. (Hayley Feland/Alpha News)

Knudson said he believes Walz has painted a negative picture of law enforcement as being “racist” and “killers” following “critical incidents” in the state.

One of Knudson’s officers, Deputy Kaitie Leising, was shot and killed by a drunk driver last May. Knudson said he was speaking out because he knows “so many law enforcement officers in Minnesota feel this way, but they can’t say it.”

“They are in a very unique position of being pushed down by a number of politicians, who come out to say ‘Gee, our condolences,’ and then the rest of the time they beat us down,” he commented.

Sheriff Knudson said people don’t want to enter the profession when “they get no support from their governor” and have a “fear that their attorney general will prosecute,” referring to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.

He also criticized the “dangerous” Hennepin County attorney, Mary Moriarty, because she appears to have a “criminals’ rights first, victims’ rights last” mindset.

“I sure hope you’re a one-term wonder and that that’s all you get,” he said of Moriarty.

“Thanks but no thanks. My first thought is, ‘Well who wrote that for you?’” Knudson added, responding to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s reaction to the shooting. “Because you’re also one who wanted to dismantle and destroy the police departments. You made that very clear.

“There is a wonder of, what is next for the law enforcement community across the river?” Knudson concluded. “When they don’t have support from the top, people don’t want to do this job.”

A joint public memorial service for the fallen Burnsville first responders is scheduled for Feb. 28 at 11 a.m. at Grace Church in Eden Prairie. A fundraiser has also been started to support the families.


Hayley Feland

Hayley Feland previously worked as a journalist with The Minnesota Sun, The Wisconsin Daily Star, and The College Fix. She is a Minnesota native with a passion for politics and journalism.