The St. Paul Police Federation’s president apologized Wednesday for an open letter issued to mayoral candidate Melvin Carter raising questions about the theft of two guns from his home, but denied that the act was racially motivated.
The statement from Dave Titus came after outcry over the letter, which outgoing Mayor Chris Coleman condemned Wednesday.
Carter, who is black, has called for more police oversight as part of his campaign.
“Melvin Carter’s campaign has asserted that the amazing men and women of the St. Paul police department are racists,” said Titus in a statement. “This is something we categorically deny and find offensive. The intent of our letter yesterday was in no way to revictimize the Carter family and for that we apologize.”
The political battle began after Larobin Scott allegedly burglarized Carter’s St. Paul home Aug. 15, taking a video game system, cigars, two handguns and ammunition. Shortly afterward, Carter acknowledged the burglary, thanking the police officers who responded to the call. Scott, 24, was charged last week with felony first-degree burglary.
In an open letter to Carter dated Tuesday, the police union asked Carter to address several questions, including, “How did you acquire two guns and where were they purchased?”
“Investigators have still not been able to locate the missing guns or the ammunition that was taken from your residence,” said the letter. “…We realize this is a sensitive matter but believe the risk to the community from two additional guns on the streets of St. Paul at a time of increased violence and as the city gets closer to Election Day creates the need to ask for your answers.”
The letter also asks why the handguns were stored in a “metal box that was not secured or affixed,” although at the time of the burglary a police spokesman said the handguns were in a “secured lockbox.”
Carter swiftly responded by calling the letter a “racist attack” that “demonstrates the way people of color are presumed guilty by police every day in our city.”
The federation’s letter offers more detail than what is currently offered in public documents, including where and how guns were allegedly stored. A police report provided Wednesday offered only the time, date and address of the burglary, and named Carter as the victim. Police spokesman Steve Linders said the report initially contained more public details when Ramsey County prosecutors at first declined to charge Scott in the burglary.
“Once we were informed that charges would be filed, the case was locked per our protocol,” he said.
Scott was charged Oct. 20, and the federation’s letter was issued Oct. 24, after the police report was resealed. Linders said Police Chief Todd Axtell has spoken with Carter about the letter.
“The chief assured him that the department was in no way involved in sending the letter, nor does the department have any further questions into the burglary at his home,” Linders said.
Staff writer Abby Simons contributed to this report.