St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis police chief released bodycam video of a traffic stop involving St. Louis City Alderman Joe Vaccaro and said the elected official owes his officer an apology for calling him an “a—hole” on the news (video below).
Vaccaro told KSDK that the traffic stop occurred at about 9 a.m. on Feb. 10 on Interstate 44 near Jefferson.
The officer wrote him two tickets – one for going 76 mph in a 60 mph zone and another for failing to produce proof of insurance.
Afterwards, Vaccaro went to the news media and complained that the officer had behaved rudely towards him during the traffic stop.
“I think he’s just an a–hole,” the alderman told KMOV.
He told the television station he thought the officer had picked him out of traffic because he was driving a new fancy truck.
“If I was going in a Porsche vs a Pinto, they would probably pick the Porsche out,” Vaccaro said.
The alderman also had complaints about the officer’s conduct at his truck window, KMOV reported.
“The guy is coughing all over me, with nowhere to run to. I asked to have him tested, and I asked him to be tested for COVID, and it looked like he had something going on,” Vaccaro said.
He said he told the officer to put his mask on, KMOV reported.
“I told him I was going to talk to the colonel and the chief,” Vaccaro said.
He said he wasn’t trying to get out of the tickets – and he didn’t.
And the elected official said he wanted the police chief to release the bodycam of the incident.
“I would be fine with that tape coming out because you’ll see how rude he was. Not disrespectful, just rude,” Vaccaro said.
The alderman claimed that St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden called him after the traffic stop and told him he would fix the tickets for him, KMOV reported.
But Chief Hayden released bodycam video of the traffic stop on Thursday, the police chief said he never offered to take care of Vaccaro’s tickets.
He said that after reviewing the bodycam video, he thought Vaccaro owed the officer an apology for his comments to the news media and called the elected official’s behavior “disturbing, unprofessional and unacceptable,” KMOV reported.
“I just think that that was just totally deplorable,” Chief Hayden said. “That, hey, an officer is working hard. This officer almost has 20 years on him. He works hard every day and he gets defamed in that nature.”
Bodycam video showed that the officer only coughed once during the traffic stop, and that was as he first approached Vaccaro’s vehicle after ordering him multiple times to get back in the truck.
The video also showed that when the officer returned to Vaccaro’s truck after he wrote the tickets, he was wearing a mask.
The mask over his face can be seen in the reflection of the driver’s door multiple times during the bodycam video.
The video showed that when the officer returned to Vaccaro’s truck, the alderman had found his proof of insurance, but the ticket was already written.
The officer told the alderman that when he went to court on the other ticket he could have the ticket for his insurance torn up.
The video showed that was the first time that Vaccaro complained about the officer’s lack of mask, and by that time, the officer was wearing one.
The police chief told reporters that the officer explained that he wasn’t wearing a mask the first time he approached Vaccaro’s vehicle because the alderman had gotten out of his truck on a busy highway, and the officer had to quickly jump out and tell him to get back in for his safety.
Vaccaro said he has no intention of apologizing to the officer and that he was still planning to file a formal complaint against him, KMOV reported.
He said he was notified a few days after the traffic stop that the officer had tested positive, and then a few days after that he was told that test results ultimately came back negative.
But Vaccaro said he had already had to cancel a vacation because of the officer and it was too late to fix it, KMOV reported.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below: