Baltimore mayoral candidate Thiru Vignarajah was cited for driving his car while his registration was suspended in a nearly hourlong traffic stop recorded by a city police officer’s body camera. The Democrat said he regrets unknowingly driving last year on suspended tags and has resolved the problem.
The officer stopped Vignarajah on Sept. 26 around 1 a.m. in the 2400 block of Greenmount Avenue in East Baltimore, according to the footage obtained by The Baltimore Sun through a Maryland Public Information Act request.
It shows the officer telling the former Maryland deputy attorney general he saw him driving without his headlights on; Vignarajah contests that. After taking Vignarajah’s license and registration, the officer says the registration was suspended due to an outstanding order from May to have the car repaired.
Vignarajah questioned the officer.
“We are 600 patrol officers down and that’s what you’re doing in Greenmount?” Vignarajah said, referencing a shortage of police officers in Baltimore.
The officer says he’s giving Vignarajah a warning about the headlights, but is removing his license plates because of the registration issue and tells him to call a tow truck. But after a sergeant arrived, at the officer’s request, the officer instead considers following Vignarajah home, but ultimately lets him leave on his own.
At the end of the stop, Vignarajah apologized to the officer for being “snippy” and told him to stay safe.
Asked Friday about the incident, Vignarajah said it stemmed from a repair order for a light on his car. He said he’d replaced the light, but forgot to send in paperwork showing the repair had been made. “This was a modest oversight, corrected soon thereafter,” he said.
Vignarajah said a passenger in the car with him was a friend in town for a legal conference. After a late dinner, he said he drove her around to show her places where he prosecuted gang violence, and told the officer he hoped to inspire her to work in Baltimore. The video shows she called a ride-sharing service and left the scene.
“I wasn’t happy being pulled over, like anyone else,” Vignarajah said. “I could have been more polite. In the end, I thanked him for his service and I appreciated his patience.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.