The Potluck

Police chief: Rep. John Thompson engaged in heated confrontation with St. Paul police, again

By: - April 25, 2022 2:50 pm

Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul. Photo by Henry Pan/Minnesota Reformer.

The chief of the St. Paul Police Department says state Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul, intervened in a traffic stop of his daughter, “attempt(ed) to intimidate and bully police officers” and “misuse(d) his official position.”

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell wrote in a blistering Facebook post Monday that an officer stopped Thompson’s daughter, whose license, Axtell alleged, was suspended and who was driving with tabs that had been expired for two years. “The driver’s father pulled up in another vehicle, jumped out and immediately began interfering by yelling and questioning the traffic stop and identifying himself as state Rep. John Thompson.”

Thompson released a statement Tuesday saying he wasn’t trying to intimidate police officers but responded “as any concerned father” after arriving at a “chaotic scene” to help deal with his frightened daughter. He said his daughter had a “mental health episode” triggered by the “large and unnecessary presence of the SPPD.”

But, he thanked the officers on scene for treating him with the “utmost respect” and did an “exemplary job ” of de-escalating the situation. He said he hopes that will be the standard going forward “when dealing with mental health issues.”

The incident, first reported by independent journalist Michael Brodkorb, took place Sunday evening, just moments before Thompson appeared on the House floor to listen to the State of the State address given by DFL Gov. Tim Walz.

Axtell concluded his statement: “It was an outrageous scene. 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.”

Thompson had another contentious interaction with St. Paul police last year. He accused the officer of racial profiling and drew residency questions when he showed the officer a Wisconsin drivers’ license.

As a candidate for office in August 2020, Thompson attended and shouted, “You think we give a f— about Hugo burning down” during a protest outside the suburban house of former Minneapolis police union president Bob Kroll.

He has faced allegations of domestic assault, including in front of young children. Those revelations prompted a wave of calls to resign, including by Walz and House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park.

He now has a Minnesota driver’s license, and he says he regrets the Hugo incident.

Thompson didn’t resign, and Minnesota House Democrats removed him from their caucus.

Thompson failed to win the DFL endorsement in his district but says he is running for reelection anyway. Liz Lee, a former congressional staffer, won the DFL endorsement in the heavily Democratic East St. Paul district 67a.

This story was updated at 9:41 a.m. Tuesday to include Thompson’s response.

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J. Patrick Coolican
J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and two young children