(KNSI) — St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell is calling out state Representative John Thompson after what he calls “outrageous” behavior during a traffic stop Sunday.
Police say an officer got behind a vehicle that had been swerving and noticed the tabs were more than two years out of date. The officer tried to conduct a traffic stop, and initially, the driver wouldn’t pull over. When the woman finally did stop, she refused to roll down the window more than an inch, and the officer said they could smell “illegal drugs” coming from the van.
While another officer was trying to speak with the driver, another vehicle pulled up “at a high rate of speed.” Police say the driver got out and began screaming at the officer and interfering with the stop. The driver allegedly identified himself as an official. He said the woman in the van was his daughter and started handing out business cards.
The police report says, “the van’s driver continued to ignore officers and made a video call.” The driver also refused to field sobriety tests and was allowed to leave with Thompson. Axtell says she also was driving on a suspended license.
The case has reportedly been handed over to the St. Paul City Attorney for possible charges.
In a scathing Facebook postAxtell said the stop “turned ugly fast,” adding, “Here we go again.”
“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 .
“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. How many times? How many times do our officers have to be berated? How many times do lies have to come to light?
“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.”
State law prohibits police from releasing body cam footage but encouraged Thompson and his daughter to sign off on releasing it.
This is not the first time Thompson has had a run-in with St. Paul police.
Last summer, he was stopped for not having a front license plate on his vehicle. He accused the officer of racial profiling. Bodycam footage of that incident was made public and showed Thompson handing over a Wisconsin driver’s license. The state suspended Thompson’s driving privileges in Minnesota over an alleged child support issue, which Thompson claimed was incorrect.
A deeper search of records shows several claims of domestic abuse. Thomson was accused of punching and choking women, sometimes in the presence of children. He was found guilty in 2021 for an obstruction charge stemming from an incident at North Memorial in Robbinsdale.
Top DFL party leaders, including Governor Tim Walz, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, Speaker Hortman, Majority Leader Winkler, and Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin, called for Thompson’s resignation after the dust-up last summer. st. Cloud area Representative Dan Wolgamott issued a statement back in July saying, “Representative John Thompson’s recent actions and disturbing reports of abuse fall well short of the standards Minnesotans expect and deserve from their elected officials. I call on Rep. Thompson to resign immediately.”
A defiant Thompson refused to step down, so the DFL caucus vote to expel him. As a result, he will no longer be allowed to participate in DFL party events or tap into party resources.
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