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Minnesota state rep John Thompson says he responded as concerned dad to traffic stop

Legislator said he would not intimidate with his official position.

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Minnesota state legislator John Thompson.
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ST. PAUL -- Rep. John Thompson responded Tuesday to the St. Paul police chief’s allegations about his actions during a traffic stop, saying he “would not attempt to misuse, intimidate or bully police officers with my official position.”

An officer pulled over Thompson’s 26-year-old daughter in St. Paul on Sunday afternoon, after which police say Thompson arrived at the scene.

“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 wrote. “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. Thank you.”

Thompson said he has faith that the way officers handled him and his daughter “creates the standard of treatment going forward, when dealing” with “mental health issues.”

Suspended license

Thompson’s daughter’s driver’s license was suspended and the vehicle she was driving, which was registered to Thompson, had tabs that had been expired for two years, according to police.

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St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell wrote in a Monday Facebook post: “While the officer was attempting to get the driver … to cooperate and other officers backed her up, 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 Representative John Thompson.”

Thompson handed out his official business cards, according to the police department.

Axtell continued in his post: “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 situation began Sunday about 4:30 p.m. when an officer pulled over the driver of a van after seeing it swerve out of its lane on Interstate 35E, said Steve Linders, a St. Paul police spokesman.

The driver stopped in the area of Westminster and Cayuga streets, and wouldn’t roll her window down to talk to the officer, Linders said. The officer reported smelling marijuana coming from the vehicle.

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

Officers told the woman 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.

“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.”

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The case is under review by the city attorney’s office for potential charges against the woman.

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