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Derrick Thompson pleads not guilty to drug, weapons charges in crash that killed 5 young women in Minneapolis

Son of former MN House Rep. John Thompson indicted in deadly Minneapolis crash
Son of former MN House Rep. John Thompson indicted in deadly Minneapolis crash 00:32

MINNEAPOLIS — The son of a former Minnesota state representative was in a federal courtroom Monday, where he pleaded not guilty to drug- and firearm-related charges following a crash earlier this year that claimed the lives of five young women.

In June, the U.S. Attorney's Office charged Derrick Thompson, 28, with three felony charges: possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, illegally possessing a firearm and carrying a firearm in connection to a drug trafficking crime. He was indicted on those charges by a federal jury earlier this month.

Thompson was previously charged in June in Hennepin County with 10 counts of criminal vehicular homicide in connection to the crash on June 16 in south Minneapolis.

Derrick Thompson
Derrick Thompson HCSO

Details from the night of the fatal crash

The criminal complaint states Thompson was spotted by a state trooper driving erratically in an SUV, at speeds approaching 100 mph, on Interstate 35 in Minneapolis.

The trooper, who said they didn't have their emergency lights on and didn't closely pursue the speeding driver, reported Thompson cut across several lanes of traffic and exited at Lake Street.

The complaint states Thompson then sped through a red light at the intersection of East Lake Street and Second Avenue South, and plowed at full speed into a Honda Civic.

On impact, Thompson is alleged to have killed the Honda's passengers: Sabiriin Ali, 17; Sahra Gesaade, 20; Salma Abdikadir, 20; Sagal Hersi, 19; and Siham Adam, 19.

RELATED: Community pays respects to 5 young women killed in south Minneapolis crash

The complaint states witnesses saw Thompson flee the SUV on foot and run into an alley. Minneapolis police officers soon found him seated on a curb outside of a Taco Bell, covered in blood and sweat.

Court documents state Thompson had rented the SUV at MSP Airport about a half-hour before the crash.


The evidence used to bring about additional drug and firearm charges

The complaint says inside the SUV, police found a bag containing the following items:

  • A loaded handgun with an extended magazine
  • Three large plastic bags containing 2,000-plus fentanyl pills
  • A bag with 14 grams of powdered fentanyl
  • A bag with 13 MDMA pills
  • A bag with 35 grams of cocaine and a digital scale

"These federal charges underscore the seriousness of Mr. Thompson's criminal actions," said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. "We will continue to take an aggressive stance against individuals who engage in armed fentanyl dealing and present grave danger to our community. 

Derrick Thompson's previous convictions

In 2018, Thompson was convicted in California in a crash that nearly killed a North Carolina woman who was on vacation.

The complaint in that case states Thompson was observed speeding near a beach in Ventura. An officer gave chase, and Thompson eventually struck the victim, sending her into a 20-day-long coma. The victim survived, but never fully recovered.

Thompson fled that crash scene on foot and returned to Minnesota. Police in Ventura found 17 pounds of marijuana in Thompson's vehicle, as well as $20,000 in cash.

He was eventually arrested in Minnesota and was extradited back to California, where he pleaded guilty to several felonies.

Thompson was sentenced to eight years in prison, but was released months before the deadly Minneapolis crash due to a California program that allows inmates early release in exchange for training and working as a firefighter.

His driver's license was revoked after the 2018 conviction, but it was reinstated just three months before the fatal Minneapolis crash.

Besides the California conviction, Thompson has several driving-related convictions, and one for drug possession from 2015.  

Then-Rep. John Thompson in 2021 WCCO

Derrick Thompson's father

Derrick Thompson is the son of former Democratic Minnesota State Rep. John Thompson, who served a single, tumultuous term representing St. Paul's District 67A before he lost re-election in a landslide last year to Liz Lee.

John Thompson first gained attention as a community activist following the police shooting that claimed the life of his friend Philando Castile in 2016

During his time in office, John Thompson was embroiled in a series of scandals. Early on in his term in 2021, he was cited for driving with a suspended license and accused the officer of racial profiling. The incident led to a dispute over whether he actually lived in the district he represented.

He then faced domestic abuse allegations, which his wife later refuted.

Then in 2022, he was accused of bullying another St. Paul police officer when he came to the scene of a traffic stop involving his daughter.

He was pressured to resign from office, and was eventually expelled from the House DFL Caucus. He finished out his term as an independent.

What's next for Derrick Thompson

Derrick Thompson's next hearing for his criminal vehicular homicide charges will take place on Dec. 20.

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