Walz joins call for Hutchinson to resign after new footage emerges

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Governor Tim Walz called for the resignation of Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson Thursday.

The governor’s statements came several hours after Minnesota State Patrol released new photos and videos of Hutchinson’s drunk driving crash in Douglas County last month.

"There’s consequences for decisions like that. I just wish he gets the help he needs to move on with his life," Walz said.

Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan added, "I would say that it is time for him to resign."

Newly released evidence in the case reveals Hutchinson was driving more than 120 miles per hour before crashing his Hennepin County Sheriff SUV along I-94 near Alexandria around 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 8.

Minnesota State Patrol said Hutchinson’s blood alcohol content was .13, based on a urine sample collected nearly three hours after the crash.

The dash camera video released Thursday shows the first deputy on scene helping Hutchinson up from the ground on the shoulder of the interstate.

His mangled SUV was flipped on its side in the snow close to the median.

Deputies on scene reported Hutchinson smelled of alcohol, was unsteady on his feet and slurred his words, sometimes making illogical statements in response to questions.

They later found a bottle of bourbon in the front seat, along with many other items that had been thrown from his vehicle, including guns and ammunition.

Video from the deputy’s squad car shows Hutchinson telling investigators he had been at the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association Winter Conference in Alexandria earlier that night.

Hutchinson is heard denying that he was driving the vehicle.

"I can’t find anybody else around here. Who was driving?" the deputy asked.

"I’m from Hennepin so I don’t know. I took a cab from some person," Hutchinson replied.

"So were you a passenger then?" the deputy asks.

Hutchinson responded, "Yeah, I don’t drive. Yeah."

The deputy later noted in his police report: "The keys were not laying where Hutchinson was when I arrived on scene, however, the keys were in the lane of traffic a short distance away. I believe Hutchinson threw the keys out of his pocket so the keys would not be in his possession."

After being taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, a trooper told Hutchinson he had a warrant to collect a urine or blood sample to test for alcohol.

"Can I talk to my attorney first?" Hutchinson is heard saying on an audio recording.

The trooper responded, "No. I have a signed search warrant for your blood or urine from the judge."

In a statement released after the crash, Hutchinson said:

"I made the inexcusable decision to drive after drinking alcohol and I am deeply sorry. As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in Hennepin County, I am held to a higher standard. I regret the choice I made and apologize to the citizens I serve, the staff I work with, and the friends and family who support me. I take full responsibility for my actions and am prepared to accept the consequences of my poor decision. I am relieved that no one else was injured in the crash. I will immediately address my personal issues surrounding alcohol and seek the help I need to continue to serve the people of Hennepin County."

Hutchinson later pleaded guilty to fourth-degree DWI and was sentenced to probation.

Multiple Hennepin County commissioners have called for the sheriff to step down.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison for comment on the case. Ellison issued the following statement Friday morning:

"I’ve been asked to comment on the circumstances surrounding Sheriff Hutchinson. I must decline to comment because my office represents the POST Board, the entity that reviews peace officer license violations. When a licensed peace officer has a criminal conviction, the normal course of action is for the officer to appear before the POST Board. So, consistent with the principles of due process, it’s inappropriate for me to comment at this time."

State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, also released a statement Friday and called for Hutchinson to resign:

"I served four terms as the elected Douglas County Sheriff. The position of an elected law enforcement official comes with enormous responsibility and demands honor in and out of uniform. Public trust is paramount to being successful in maintaining safe communities.

"Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson’s actions in my district last December are simply unacceptable from any law enforcement officer. He drove under the influence, with a loaded firearm, at high speeds, without a seatbelt. He totaled a county vehicle and lied to other law enforcement officials. He purposefully complicated the situation to confuse his peers and avoid responsibility. Any one of those actions would warrant reconsideration of his position, all of them in one incident are unacceptable. Sheriff Hutchinson has lost the trust of the public and dishonored the uniform. He can no longer be effective. He needs to resign."

Hutchinson is still in office and previously stated he would let the voters decide his fate in next fall’s election.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS also reached out to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office for an updated statement from the sheriff Thursday but has yet to hear back.