Bodycam footage shreds Dem lawmaker’s claim of ‘driving while black’ – Police chief demands apology

Released bodycam footage is raising severe doubts over Minnesota Rep. John Thompson’s claim that a police officer pulled him over for “driving while black” when in reality he was stopped for a missing front license plate.

“Why in such a hurry?” the officer asked Thompson in footage from July 4 that was released by the St. Paul Police Department on Tuesday.

“I don’t think I took off like a bat out of hell, I just drove off,” Thompson informed the officer.

At that point in the incident, the officer asked for proof of insurance. Thompson told him it was on his phone and then told the officer that he was a state representative in the district. The officer noticed that his license was from Wisconsin and returned to his vehicle to check it out. That took about 14 minutes. “You’re suspended in Minnesota,” he told Thompson when he returned. That’s when things started to get contentious.

(Video Credit: KARE 11)

The Democrat just shook his head no and then was informed by the police officer, “That’s what the computer says. If it’s wrong, you’ll have to deal with DVS [the Department of Vehicle Services].”

According to documents that were reviewed by local media outlets, Thompson reportedly never even had a Minnesota license. He was cited for driving with a suspended Wisconsin license. That license was suspended in 2019 due to the congressman allegedly not paying child support. The address listed on the ticket was a St. Paul address that is not in his district.

That prompted the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association to send a letter to the Wisconsin attorney general asking for an investigation into the matter. They alleged that Thompson had either “defrauded the state of Wisconsin” or defrauded his Minnesota “constituents.”

Thompson asked why he was pulled over in the video and the officer notified him it was because the car had “no front plate and the way you took off from the light back there.”

“I’m too old to run from the police, man,” Thompson quipped. “You profiled me because you looked me dead in the face and I got a ticket for driving while black. You pulled me over because you saw a black face in this car, brother. There’s no way in hell I’m taking off with you behind me. … You looked in this car and busted a U-turn and got behind my car, and that’s the reason – ”

That’s when the officer notified Thompson that the exchange was being recorded on his bodycam.

“I know. But what I’m saying is, what you’re doing is wrong, to black men,” he declared. “And you need to stop that. Thank you so much, but this ticket means nothing to me … What I’m saying to you is stop racially profiling black men in their cars sir. Stop doing that.”

The police officer told Thomspon he was not racially profiling him. But the Democrat just kept insisting he was. Eventually, the officer told him to have a good night and walked away from his vehicle.

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell was outraged over Thompson accusing the officer of racism and demanded an apology. Immediately following that, the bodycam footage was released.

“These aren’t accusations I take lightly, so I looked into the traffic stop, watched the body worn camera footage and spoke to the sergeant,” Axtell posted on Facebook Friday. “This stop, made at about 1:20 in the morning, had absolutely nothing to do with the driver’s race.”

“Simply put, the traffic stop was by the books,” Axtell noted. “What happened afterwards was anything but, I’m dismayed and disappointed by the state representative’s response to the stop. Rather than taking responsibility for his own decisions and actions, he attempted to deflect, cast aspersions and deny any wrongdoing.”

“The driver, an elected official who does not dispute driving without a front license plate, owes our sergeant an apology,” the police chief stated.

Thompson admitted that the officer’s actions “were by the book” but he hasn’t apologized for what he said to him.

Instead, he posted to Facebook on Sunday doubling down on his accusation, “I know why I have a (target) on my back. But just know slander wont (sic) work either!!! Im (sic) not going to stop applying pressure!!”

On Sunday, Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin issued a statement that chastised Thompson.

“Nobody is above the law, including our elected officials,” Martin said in his statement. “We expect all of our elected officials, regardless of party, to not only follow the law, but to hold themselves to the highest standards. Whether they like it or not, their words, actions, and behavior are going to be scrutinized by the public. As such it is important for people in positions of power and influence to model the type of behavior we expect from everyone. Representative John Thompson fell short of that standard, and I am disappointed by his recent actions.”

Thompson is also facing an ethics complaint from a Republican Minnesota state representative who claims that Thompson called him a “racist” on the House floor.

Thompson previously beat an effigy of Minneapolis Police Federation President Bob Kroll and his wife outside their home while shouting “Blue lives ain’t s**t” when he was running for office.

The Democrat was slammed on social media over his accusations and what the bodycam footage actually showed:


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