Rep. John Thompson tried to ‘bully’ officers at woman’s traffic stop, misused his position – Twin Cities

st. Paul’s police chief says a state representative interfered at a traffic stop of a woman he said was his daughter, handed out business cards that identified him as Rep. John Thompson, and yelled at officers, noting his position several times.

The Minnesota House Democrats expelled Thompson from their caucus in September; he’s continued to represent St. Paul’s East Side as an independent. That came after news stories in July reported Thompson had been accused of being physically violent toward women in the past; he hadn’t been convicted of domestic abuse. He was also pulled over by St. Paul police in July for driving without a license and responded he was the victim of racial profiling.

On Sunday afternoon, Thompson accused St. Paul officers of being racist during a traffic stop when he arrived after police pulled over a 26-year-old who he identified as his daughter, said Steve Linders, a police spokesman, on Monday.

“It’s an absolute shame — that an official would attempt to intimidate and bully police officers, that he would misuse his official position, that officers jobs should have to endure illegitimate claims of racism, that John Thompson is still serving in the Legislature ,” Police Chief Todd Axtell wrote on his Facebook page Monday. “It’s a slap in the face to those of us — including our police officers — who are working in good faith to make our city safer for everyone.”

Thompson could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Axtell said he wished state allowed the police department to release body camera footage, but they can’t at this time, though he noted that Thompson or his daughter could request it and release it.

“I want to be clear about this: My officers were put in an incredibly difficult position and made the best decision they could at the time to de-escalate and avoid being unfairly vilified — again,” Axtell wrote. “It was an outrageous scene.”

On Sunday at 4:36 pm, an officer working on a state-funded detail focusing on impaired driving enforcement in St. Paul pulled over the driver of a van after seeing it swerve out of its lane on Interstate 35E, Linders said. The officer ran a check on the van’s license plates and discovered the registration expired in April 2020; the van was registered to Thompson, according to police.

The driver exited at Cayuga Street and the officer activated her squad car’s emergency lights, but the van kept going. The officer chirped her squad’s siren to get the attention of the driver, who continued onto Westminster Street. The driver stopped about halfway up the block on Westminster Street.

The officer walked to the driver’s side window and pointed for the driver to roll it down, but she shook her to indicate she wouldn’t; it was rolled down about one inch, Linders said. She requested again and the driver did not acknowledge the officer.

“At this point, not knowing what was going on with the driver, the officer requested other squads to the scene,” Linders said. “This is a standard procedure and done for the safety of everyone involved in the call.”

The officer who made the traffic stop could smell marijuana coming from the van. She asked the driver to turn off the vehicle her keys on the dashboard, which she did. Another officer tried to speak with the driver.

“While this was happening, another vehicle approached the scene at a high rate of speed and stopped in front of the van,” Linders said in the statement. “A man got out of the vehicle and began yelling at officers, expressing displeasure with treatment of the van’s driver (who he identified as his daughter) and the number of officers at the traffic stop.”

Officers told the driver to exit the van for field sobriety tests, but she would not, according to police. They told her she would be charged with refusing a field sobriety test if she didn’t. Her driver’s license had been suspended, Linders said. Information about the reason for the suspension was not immediately known.

“Officers at the scene made the decision to allow the van’s driver to go home with her father, deciding to charge her out of custody,” the police statement said. “At this point, the driver got out of the van and went with Thompson.”

Police said they submitted the case to the city attorney’s office for charging consideration.

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