Senator, An Ex-Sheriff, Seeks Resolution Against Dayton’s Shooting Comment

A state senator and long-time law enforcement officer wants the Senate to admonish Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton for saying a police officer would not have shot a black St. Paul man had he been white.

“He jumps to a conclusion” before the investigation into the July 6 shooting is done, Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said in an interview. “Very disturbing.”

While Ingebrigtsen said he hopes to get support from fellow senators, the Senate is controlled by Democrats and Dayton is a Democrat.

The resolution he wants to introduce during an expected special legislative session next month says, in part: “Whereas, Gov. Dayton’s irresponsible statements are an affront to the integrity and professionalism of not only the police involved in the Castile shooting, but of all licensed peace officers in Minnesota … the Minnesota Legislature denounces and condemns the harmful statements made by Gov. Mark Dayton regarding the Castile shooting and admonish him and all leaders to demonstrate a higher level of restraint in the future.”

A day after a St. Anthony police officer shot and killed 32-year-old Philando Castile, a black man, on July 6, Dayton said: “Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver and the passengers, were white? I don’t think it would have.”

A day later, reporters asked him if he stood by his comments, and he said that he would not take them back.

Deputy Chief of Staff Linden Zakula of Dayton’s office called the senator’s resolution “a malicious attack.”

“In no way was the governor questioning the outstanding professionalism of Minnesota’s law enforcement community, which the governor has strongly supported throughout his years as governor,” Zakula said in a statement. “Of course, legislators are going to vote to ‘show their unwavering support for our local law enforcement officers,’ as would the governor.”

A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, said he could not be reached Monday for a comment on Ingebrigtsen’s resolution.

The Legislature may return next month to a special session to pass a tax-cut bill and legislation funding public works projects, including road and bridge work. However, Dayton says that before he will call a special session, he must have a signed agreement from all four legislative leaders about what will pass — and it is doubtful he would approve a resolution condemning himself.

Ingebrigtsen was Douglas County sheriff for 16 years and deputy sheriff 19 years. His father also was a sheriff.

He said Dayton’s comments were a “rush to judgment” that insulted Minnesota’s 10,632 law enforcement officers.

The senator said he was especially taken back by Dayton’s remarks because the governor usually consults with law enforcement officials before making a decision affecting them.

Officers’ organizations strongly criticized Dayton’s comments.

Ingebrigtsen’s resolution comes after police were killed in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La. He said comments like Dayton made only add to fear police have in doing their jobs.

“My fear is the law enforcement officer will put on his uniform in the morning and go out and protect himself,” Ingebrigtsen said, concentrating more on that than protecting the public.