ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — State Rep. John Thompson on Tuesday said he did not attempt to misuse his position as an elected official or intimidate police officers when he showed up to a traffic stop involving his adult daughter, disputing a police report of what happened.
His reaction was that of a concerned father responding to a child in crisis, he said.
It’s Thompson’s first statement since the Sunday incident, when St. Paul Police, according to a summary report, pulled over his 26-year-old daughter on suspicion of impaired driving and expired tabs. Officers said she didn’t cooperate, and that they smelled “the odor of illegal drugs.”
Thompson arrived later, and according to police, started yelling at officers and pulling out business cards to show he’s a state lawmaker. On Facebook, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said Thompson “misused his position” and attempted to “intimidate and bully police officers.”
The state lawmaker representing parts of St. Paul said in a statement released Tuesday that he “certainly would not attempt to misuse, intimidate or bully police officers with [his] official position.”
“I responded as any concerned father would, arriving at a chaotic scene to help deal with my frightened daughter, who was having a verifiable mental health episode, which was triggered by the large presence of the SPPD,” Thompson said.
Officers at the scene let Thompson take his daughter home, declining to take her into custody and then referring the case to the city attorney, according to the police report.
Thompson praised the police officers for how they handled the situation.
“Additionally, the law enforcement officers on scene treated me with the utmost respect and I want to highlight the exemplary job the officers did deescalating the situation,” he said. “Thank you. I have faith the handling of my daughter and I creates the standard of treatment going forward when dealing [with] mental health issues.”
Last summer, a St. Paul Police sergeant pulled over Thompson on July 4 for not having a front license plate and he alleged racial profiling. Thompson later apologized, and he was cited for driving with a suspended license.
State law prohibits the release of body camera footage in this case without permission from Thompson or his daughter, except when “to aid law enforcement, promote public safety, or dispel rumor or unrest.”
A spokesman for St. Paul Police said the department believes it cannot release the footage at this time.
Thompson’s legislative assistant did not respond when asked if Thompson would authorize release the body camera video.
The House DFL expelled Thompson from the caucus last year following allegations of domestic abuse against Thompson, which he denies.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Melissa Hortman said she has not heard of any House members planning to file ethics complaints against Thompson, which in general are rare. If she received a complaint she would refer it to the ethics committee, which she is not a part of because she is the presiding officer of the Minnesota House.
“All I know so far is that Chief Axtell has a Facebook post and that Rep. Thompson has a response,” she said. “I was up until last night dealing with legislative matters and this morning at meetings at eight and nine so I’ve not read the reports in depth.”
The House Ethics Committee dismissed a complaint against Thompson last year.