Mercer County, NJ — Telling body camera footage was recently released of an alleged drunk driver which shows the differences between the way police officers treat random citizens and the way they treat fellow officers. Before the officers conducting the stop knew the man they were about to arrest was a fellow cop and chief of police, the way they treated him was entirely different.
The stop happened on April 22 when a motorist called 911 to report a red truck that was "weaving all over the place" and had almost hit a mailbox.
“He’s gonna kill somebody,” the caller told 911.
Moments after that call ended, the woman called back to tell 911 dispatchers that the truck had stopped and the driver was "drunk" and out of the truck.
“He’s on the ground in the middle of the road, can’t get up… now he’s leaning on his car,” she said. “He’s so obliviated.”
When officers showed up, they found Bordentown Police Chief Brian Pesce lying in the road with his pants down. He appeared to have fallen down and had a contusion on his head. Because they didn't yet know he was the Bordentown chief, the two officers proceed to making fun of the scene.
“Keys in the middle of the road; cellphone in the middle of the road,” one of the responding officers says with a chuckle.
“I took a little spill,” Pesce tells the officers.
An officer then walked over and looked at Pesce’s truck, the video shows.
“What the f-k is that? He pissed on his tire and then ‘took a spill?’” the officer asks out loud.
“What’s the problem?” Pesce mumbles as the officers question him.
“You’re sleeping in the middle of the road,” one officer says.
“Your pants are down,” the other officer adds.
“Are you diabetic?” an officer asks the man.
“Not at all,” Pesce replied.
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“Probably the wrong answer,” the officer says.
Noticing a puddle of liquid on the ground, the same officer suggests with clear disgust that he “p—ed on his tire and then took a spill,” the video shows.
As the officers continue to joke around, one of them searching through Pesce's truck then finds his badge, "Ohhhh...." the officer says, before both of them turn off their body cameras.
Some time later, the cameras turn back on and the officers begin referring to Pesce as "chief" and the jokes are now over. The entire tone of the stop then changes as an ambulance is called along with the chief's wife.
The officers give him one last chance before charging him by calling the original 911 caller back to confirm that she did indeed see him get out of the driver's side of the truck. When she confirms, Pesce is arrested for driving while intoxicated.
The chief was so drunk that he doesn't recall even driving.
"I drove?" he asked.
“Who was driving?” the officer asked the chief.
“No one was driving,” Chief Pesce insisted.
The two officers are then heard discussing whether or not they should place Pesce in handcuffs — as if this discretion would be something every DUI suspect would receive.
“It’s up to you,” one of the officers said. “Like everybody else. I’ll do it, I’ll be the one… just like everybody else.”
Moments later an EMT confirms to officers that Pesce admitted to drinking.
According to the police report, before he finally stopped driving and fell out on the ground, Pesce had struck a mailbox and fled the scene. He was eventually charged with driving while intoxicated and fleeing the scene of an accident.
Had the officers known Pesce was the police chief prior to having their body cameras on or making fun of him, this stop would likely have gone far different — like so many stops before it.