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'I Got A Ticket For Driving While Black': Video Released Showing Rep. John Thompson's Traffic Stop

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Police body camera footage showing the traffic stop where a Minnesota DFL state representative got a ticket for driving with a suspended license is now public.

A St. Paul police officer pulled over Thompson near the intersection of Seventh Street East and Wacouta Street early in the morning of July 4. According to the police department, the reason for the stop was because Thompson's car did not have a front license plate.

"I'm actually a current state representative in this district right here," Thompson tells the officer in the video.

"And you got a Wisconsin [driver's] license?" the officer said.

According to records, Thompson does not hold a Minnesota driver's license and has never had a driver's license issued by Minnesota, and he was eventually cited by the officer for driving with a suspended Wisconsin license. WCCO learned his license was revoked on April 21, 2019 for his failure to pay child support in Ramsey County. You can have action taken on your driving record in Minnesota even if you do not hold a valid license. And a license can be suspended because of child support. Thompson's license was reinstated Wednesday after taking care of the child support issue.

Thompson responded to the ticket by accusing the officer of racially profiling him, but the sergeant reiterated the stop was for the license plate, which is required by state law. Thompson said he was unaware of the suspension, and goes on to accuse the officer of racially profiling him.

Rep. John Thompson Traffic Stop
A still from body camera footage of Rep. Thompson's traffic stop (credit: St. Paul Police)

"You pulled me over because you saw a Black face in this car, brother," he said. "You looked at me in this car, you looked in this car and busted a U-turn and got behind this car."

That racial profiling accusation has outraged St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell, who demanded in a Facebook post that Thompson apologize.

Thompson, in a statement, has offered no apology, but did say he supported the release of the video, and that the actions of the officer "were by the book."

That officer was indeed calm and polite throughout the video, but this is just the first of Thompson's current problems. Another major issue involves his residency. Does he live in the district he represents, as required by state law? Does he even live in the state of Minnesota?

His address listed on a 2018 speeding ticket in Ramsey County is in Superior, Wisconsin. The address listed on the July 4 ticket is a St. Paul address that's not in his district.

When Thompson filed paperwork to run for state representative, he checked a privacy box, which is for those with orders of protection or a police report saying they had been threatened. Checking the box means Thompson had to provide a separate form with a home address. That form is not a public document.

Thompson also faces more scrutiny from the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, which wrote to Wisconsin's attorney general to ask for an investigation, saying Thompson had either "defrauded the state of Wisconsin" or defrauded his "constituents" in the state of Minnesota.

DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman said in a statement that she will be investigating the allegations against Thompson with the help of the Minnesota House legal counsel.

In a letter, Secretary of State Steve Simon says his office doesn't have the authority to investigate residency allegations.

WCCO briefly spoke Tuesday afternoon with Rep. Thompson, who said he has no additional comment, and to "please respect the privacy of my family and me."

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