St. Paul, MN – A controversial Minnesota lawmaker has been accused of abusing his position “to intimidate and bully” law enforcement officers after his daughter was stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence on Sunday night.
A St. Paul police summary report said an officer stopped a 26-year-old woman after he saw her van swerve out of its lane on I-35 East near Cayuga Street at about 5:15 p.m. on April 24, KARE reported.
The officer also reported that the van had expired tabs on its license plates.
The report said the driver initially failed to stop, and when she did finally pull over, she remained uncooperative, KARE reported.
St. Paul Police Department Spokesman Steve Linders said the driver refused to roll her window down more than an inch but did follow police commands to turn off her car and place her keys on the dashboard.
Linders said the officer requested backup because he didn’t know what was going on with the driver, KARE reported.
The police summary said backup arrived and then another car arrived on the scene a short time later driven by Minnesota State Representative John Thompson.
Thompson’s vehicle approached “at a high rate of speed” and stopped in front of the van, according to the police report.
Officers said Thompson jumped out of his vehicle and started yelling at them, KARE reported.
The police report said Thompson said he objected to the number of officers on the scene and their treatment of the driver, who was his daughter.
Officers said that Thompson told them he was an elected official multiple times during his tirade, according to WCCO.
“Thompson continued to yell and scream in an irate fashion — and mention his elected position several times — as the van’s driver continued to ignore officers and made a video call,” the police report read.
The police report said officers smelled illegal drugs coming from the vehicle, which was registered to Thompson, but the driver refused to perform a field sobriety test.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell condemned the lawmaker’s behavior, KMSP reported.
Chief Axtell said the encounter “turned ugly fast.”
“It’s an absolute shame – that an elected official would attempt to intimidate and bully police officers, that he would misuse his official position, that officers doing their jobs should have to endure illegitimate claims of racism, that John Thompson is still serving in the Legislature,” the police chief said.
Officers ultimately released the woman to the custody of her father and forwarded the information to the city attorney for charging consideration, WCCO reported.
Police have asked the St. Paul city attorney to charge the driver with third-degree DWI-test refusal.
State law limits the release of bodycam video and the police chief said the footage of the incident could not be released at this point unless Thompson or his daughter requested it, KMSP reported.
“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,” Chief Axtell said.
“It was an outrageous scene,” he continued. “I wish state law allowed us to release the body worn camera footage. But we can’t at this time. However, Rep. Thompson or his daughter can. And I encourage them to do so.”
It wasn’t yet know if fellow lawmakers would file an ethics complaint against Thompson for his alleged abuse of his title, KMSP reported.
It wouldn’t be the first time that Thompson’s resignation has been demanded after he stretched ethical or legal boundaries.
In July of 2021, the Minnesota governor called on Thompson to resign after he lied about being racially profiled during a traffic stop on Independence Day.
In August of 2020, shortly after he won the Democratic primary for what would become his state house seat, Thompson was filmed at a protest at the home of the Minneapolis police union president calling for violence against law enforcement officers and civilians.