MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In his first TV interview, Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson says he won’t resign, and he plans to run for re-election.
Earlier this month, the sheriff drove drunk and rolled his county-owned vehicle on Interstate 94 in Alexandria, which left him with broken ribs and a head injury.
He told WCCO’s Jennifer Mayerle what he’s doing to regain trust in the community, and with his department.
“I’m here to say that what happened is inexcusable. I’m very sorry to the people of Hennepin County, to my family and friends, and people of this agency for the mistake I make,” Hutchinson said.
It happened on the morning of Dec. 8 after a Minnesota Sheriff’s Association conference in Alexandria.
“We called the end of the night and I went back to my room where I couldn’t sleep, and I made the unfortunate decision to drive after consuming some alcohol,” Hutchinson said.
He says he planned to drive back to the Twin Cities. Hutchinson’s blood alcohol measured over the legal limit at 0.13. A warrant filed with the courts says at the time of the crash, there was a strong odor of alcohol, and it appeared he exhibited poor balance and slurred speech.
FULL INTERVIEW: Sheriff Hutchinson Goes 1-On-1 With WCCO’s Jennifer Mayerle
“I’m not asking for forgiveness. I’m in the wrong. I pled guilty because I am guilty. I want to learn from this. I want other people to learn from this,” Hutchinson said.
“Should you resign?” Mayerle said.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “The last three years we’ve done a lot of good stuff.”
“What makes you feel like you can still lead this department?” Mayerle said.
“The last three years have proven that. We’ve been through a lot. The unrest, the killing of George Floyd. Our agency, my agency, myself have proven ourselves,” Hutchinson said. “This mistake is, while very big, and I, you know, hurt when I talk about it, but we have to get back in the saddle, we have to go back and hold criminals accountable. Everybody needs to be accountable. I’m accountable for my actions.”
Hutchinson says he’s going through treatment for chemical dependency and mental health, and says he’s stopped drinking for good.
“I’ve realized that when I do drink, sometimes I have one or two many. And so that’s why I’ve decided not to drink because, again, I don’t know when to stop sometimes, and that’s part of the healing process I’m dealing with through treatment,” Hutchinson said.
He says he intends to do what it takes to regain the trust of the community and his department.
“I think it’s gonna be a long road, but I took an oath to protect and serve. I made a mistake. I have to move past that and heal as a human, but I’m ready to serve,” he said.
Hutchinson told WCCO he will pay for the damage to the squad.
He pleaded guilty to fourth-degree DWI. Under the plea agreement, Hutchinson will undergo random drug and alcohol testing, and he can’t have any alcohol or driving violations. He will serve a stayed jail sentence of 90 days.
You can watch the full interview with Sheriff Hutchinson on CBSN Minnesota on Monday, Dec. 27 at 7 p.m.