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Traffic stop of Baltimore mayoral candidate under review

January 22, 2020 GMT

BALTIMORE (AP) — A traffic stop in which a Baltimore mayoral candidate asked an officer to turn off his body camera has been placed under investigation.

Thiru Vignarajah defended his actions during the traffic stop in September 2019 at a news conference Tuesday, news outlets reported.

Body camera video from the officer who pulled the candidate over shows he was stopped for driving without his headlights on, which Vignarajah contests. The officer later discovered there was a problem with Vignarajah’s registration.

Another officer and a Baltimore police sergeant responded to the scene during the hourlong stop, news outlets reported.

Vignarajah asked the sergeant to turn off his body camera. The video from the sergeant’s body camera was first obtained and reported by independent journalist Justine Barron, according to news outlets.

The sergeant agreed to turn off the camera and it did not record for about two minutes, news outlets reported.

“We have referred this case to the Public Integrity Bureau to investigate whether there was any policy violation related to the stop,” Baltimore police spokesman Matt Jablow said in a statement.

Vignarajah was given a warning for driving without his headlights on. He was cited for driving the car while the registration was suspended, The Baltimore Sun reported.

During Tuesday’s news conference, Vignarajah called the situation a political distraction. He suggested the video was made public to undermine his campaign for mayor because recent polls showed him with a slim lead, WBAL-AM reported.