Police Release Bodycam Footage After Minnesota Lawmaker Stopped by Police Claims Racial Profiling

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
July 17, 2021USshare
Police Release Bodycam Footage After Minnesota Lawmaker Stopped by Police Claims Racial Profiling
Minnesota state Rep. John Thompson seated inside his vehicle on July 4 following a traffic stop. (Courtesy of St. Paul Police)

Authorities in Minnesota released the body camera footage of a traffic stop involving a state lawmaker who claimed he was pulled over and ticketed by an officer for his race.

The video, released by the City of St. Paul, shows state Rep. John Thompson, a Democrat, being pulled over on July 4 after midnight; with the officer citing that the reason for the traffic stop was a missing front license plate and speeding.

Thompson is heard in the video disputing the traffic stop, explaining to the officer he believes he was stopped because the officer “saw a black face” driving the vehicle.

The lawmaker also released a statement following the interaction—claiming that many of the “pretextual stops” by law enforcement are to “publicly humiliate black, Indigenous, and communities of color.”

In the 16-minute video—which is largely footage of the officer sitting in his cruiser going through the driver’s license of Thompson—the officer is seen approaching the lawmaker with a flashlight while asking him why he is in such a hurry as he checks his identification.

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

The officer is then seen walking back to his cruiser to go through all the information on the lawmaker’s driver’s license via the built-in computer terminal.

About 15 minutes into the video, the unnamed officer returns to Thompson and tells him his license in Minnesota is suspended and hands over a ticket.

“You profiled me because you looked me dead in the face and I got a ticket for driving while black,” Thompson responded to the officer after he was told he was ticketed for driving without a front plate. “You pulled me over because you saw a black face in this car, brother.”

“What you’re doing is wrong, to black men,” the lawmaker continued. “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.”

NTD Photo
(L-R) Minnesota state Rep. John Thompson and attorney Benjamin Crump pose for a portrait during funeral services for Daunte Wright in Minneapolis, Minn., on April 22, 2021. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

The state’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) said they are “disappointed” in their fellow colleague.

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said in a statement following the incident and reviewing the video he isn’t going to take Thompson’s accusations lightly and urges him to offer the sergeant an apology.

“I was shocked to hear that driver accuse the sergeant of making the stop based on race,” Axtell said. “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.”

“This stop … had absolutely nothing to do with the driver’s race,” he added. “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.”

In a lengthy statement made by Thompson following the interaction, he explained why he did not have a front license plate and promised to push “legislation for more police accountability.”

“I was pulled over in what is referred to as a pretextual traffic stop,” Thompson said. “Pretextual stops have been shown to not only do little to stop serious crimes, but they also disproportionately target nonwhites. This was the racial profiling I spoke to, and I’ve been working to get rid of these types of stops long before this summer.”

“I’m pushing legislation for more police accountability, and this situation is a great example of why that work matters,” he added.

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