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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Video: Chesterfield Councilman Banned From Best Buy for Not Wearing Mask

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2020 at 10:21 AM

A Chesterfield City Councilman was booted from a Best Buy for refusing to wear a mask and acting, in the words of a store manager, like a "total a-hole."

Councilman Tom DeCampi, a Republican and outspoken opponent of St. Louis mask mandates, was with his family on November 28 at the Chesterfield location of the big box electronics store when staff asked him to leave and called the cops.

A Chesterfield police officer's body cam video from the call picks up as DeCampi and his son walk from the store's entrance. The footage shows that the councilman has a mask; he's just not wearing it.

"How you doing? Tom DeCampi," he says, strolling forward to introduce himself. He extends his right hand, but the officer, who'd just pulled on his own mask, doesn't accept the bare-faced councilman's proffered handshake.

"We're leaving," DeCampi says.

One of the officers asks if he's causing a disturbance, and he says he isn't. The police tell him to stick around while they get his information and talk to Best Buy staff.

"I don't know why we have to get called out here when you're a city councilman," an officer says. "This is ridiculous."

It's not clear if the officer means it's ridiculous that a councilman won't follow the rules or if it's not something police should have to handle. (A few weeks after the incident, Chesterfield announced its police would not enforce St. Louis County's mask mandates or other virus-slowing protocols.)

At any rate, the officer writes down DeCampi's Social Security number and address and heads inside where he meets with a peeved store manager.

"Mr. Smooth out there ... absolutely defiant. Customers upset out there. Him and his son strolling around, refusing to acknowledge anyone," the manager tells the officer. "Total a-hole."

The manager says in the video that DeCampi was walking up to customers without his mask on, despite being told he was required to cover his face in the store. "Regardless of what I personally believe, we've got to follow these rules, and he knew."

The officer then tells the manager that they're going to let DeCampi leave.

"He's one of our city councilmen," the officer says, adding that they know how to identify him.

"Oh, so he did this on purpose," the manager replies, before asking, "So why would a councilman do that?"

The officer doesn't have an answer for him, but he promises to tell the DeCampis they're not allowed in the store anymore. The manager adds that the ban will extend to all St. Louis Best Buy locations. "I can't believe that's a councilman."

But DeCampi is, in fact, a Chesterfield councilman, sworn in back in 2016 to represent the suburb's 4th Ward. According to his bio of the city's site, he's also the Midwest key account manager for Helmer Scientific, a company that manufactures medical-grade refrigerators for storing substances such as blood samples and vaccines.

click to enlarge A Chesterfield police officer's bodycam records Councilman Tom DeCampi getting banned from Best Buy. - SCREENSHOT
  • A Chesterfield police officer's bodycam records Councilman Tom DeCampi getting banned from Best Buy.

Once outside the store, the officer tells DeCampi he's not being charged but he is banned from St. Louis locations of Best Buy.

"That's fine," DeCampi responds. "They're never going to get our business again."

We've reached out to DeCampi to comment and will update this story if he responds. Chesterfield Mayor Bob Nation has posted a letter of apology on the city website. He doesn't name DeCampi in the letter, but he says that the incident makes the city look bad.

"I believe that elected officials should set the very best example for our employees and citizens and I sincerely apologize on behalf of the City for the manner in which this individual Councilmember’s behavior reflects on the City," Nation's letter says, adding that he "unfortunately" doesn't have the authority to take action against DeCampi.  "He alone must answer the calls for his resignation."

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected] or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.
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