Ride of the Century: Joe Challoner Says Cops Illegally Towed Motorcycle, Will Sue (VIDEO)

Joe Challoner is pissed.

The Wisconsin native drove down this weekend with his wife and three children to participate in the Ride of the Century, and the cops attempted to impound his motorcycle twice, succeeding the second time.

As seen from video posted to his Facebook page, Challoner rushed outside the Red Roof Inn on Saturday to find the hotel's parking lot swarming with Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers and a towing rig.

Though he managed to create enough of a stink to stop the troopers from towing his sports bike that Saturday, the burnt orange Yamaha was impounded the very next day after Challoner left it parked at the site of the Ride of the Century's opening ceremony.

"I was in the most dangerous city in the country and I got robbed by the cops," Challoner tells Daily RFT.

The video shows Challoner repeatedly questioning the troopers as to why they are trying to tow his motorcycle. A trooper responds with, "It's been driven," referring to the warmth coming off the motorcycle's engine. Not convinced, Challoner continued to press the troopers, demanding to know the reason that his sports bike was being towed.

Addressing one trooper, Challoner says: "You have no right to tow this bike, you didn't see it on the road. You have no visual proof. You don't have a right. I could have been sitting here idling it for all you know."

See also: Ride of The Century Rider Blames Police for Chaos on Streets; "They Cannot Stop The Ride"

Challoner's persistence somehow paid off, and he kept his motorcycle from being the eleventh bike towed from the Red Roof Inn on Saturday. His victory was short-lived. On Sunday, after parking his sports bike near the starting point of the actual Ride of the Century group ride, Challoner and his family went buy drinks at a gas station, he says. However, when he attempted to re-enter the police checkpoint he found he could not get back through.

Challoner tells Daily RFT that he pleaded with an officer, telling him that his bike was still parked behind the checkpoint; the officer responded that the sports bike would be towed and impounded.

Challoner's sports bike later made a brief appearance on a local news report.

He tells Daily RFT he plans to file a lawsuit.

Though neither trooper in the video seemed willing to directly answer Challoner's questions, Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman Al Nothum tells Daily RFT that the ten bikes towed at the Red Roof Inn on Saturday had all been spotted driving recklessly after crossing over from Illinois to Missouri, "doing all kinds of crazy stunts, wheelies, riding on shoulders, passing cars, going the wrong way down streets."

Nothum says that the troopers decided not to engage in a dangerous close pursuit of the riders and instead chose to hang back and follow the group of motorcycles.

"Those ten bikes were identified by us, and that's why we towed them," he says.

See also: Ride of the Century Aftermath: 47 Arrests, 58 Motorcycles Towed in St. Louis City (REPORTS)

If you're wondering what specific law gave the troopers the right to seize those ten motorcycles, Nothum cites Section 304, Subsection 155, Paragraph 9 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, which allows a police officer to utilize what he calls "custodial seizure" to seize a vehicle that has been abandoned by an individual in the act of fleeing a crime.

click to enlarge Ride of the Century: Joe Challoner Says Cops Illegally Towed Motorcycle, Will Sue (VIDEO)
Danny Wicentowski

The exact wording of the statute allows seizure of "any abandoned property for which the person operating such property or vehicle eludes arrest for an alleged offense for which the officer would have taken the offender into custody."

Nothum says he is unsure if charges will be filed once all owners of the towed motorcycles are identified.

Daily RFT will be following up on this story and has already heard from other riders whose motorcycles were towed from the Red Roof Inn on Saturday. Below is another YouTube video of the incident in which a trooper says to a group of riders, "I am under the direction to tow any bike that has a hot motor."

If you want to share your experience at Ride of the Century, feel free to reach out.

See also: Ride of The Century Fatalities, Arrests: Michael Evans Clips Cop Car, Crashes, Police Say

Scroll to read more St. Louis Metro News articles


Join Riverfront Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.