Independence Twp. (WARREN COUNTY)— Dashcam video recorded during a police stop in the early morning of February 10th appears to show Independence Police Chief Keith Aiello having some trouble with his balance after he allegedly swiped a guard rail.
In a subsequent report, officers noted that Aiello’s apparent physical status indicated alcohol use. As the video demonstrates, however, the Chief was neither field sobriety tested nor administered a breathylyzer test.
The video shows Aiello get out of his township-owned Chevy Tahoe and approach Patrolman Ortiz still sitting in the patrol car. They have a quick verbal exchange, Ortiz tells Aiello that police received a call of “an erratic [vehicle],” and Aiello responds “not me.”
Shortly afterwards, a click noise can be heard and audio recording seems to stop for the rest of the encounter. Independence Township did not report redacting any information from this recording, and RNJ uploaded the entire recording unaltered in any way. On a phone call, the Township’s attorney confirmed that no audio was redacted by the Township before dissemination.
In the rest of the video, Sergeant Scott Stocker arrives and the three men examine the passenger side of Aiello’s vehicle. In the report that Sgt. Stocker filed afterward, he reported that the Chief sideswiped a guard rail before he was pulled over. Sgt. Stocker reported that the Chief claimed to be looking for his cellphone on the floor of his car while he navigated a turn and when he looked up it was too late to avoid striking the guard rail.
After examining it, the Chief begins walking towards his township-owned Tahoe. Sgt. Stocker catches his attention and all three men begin motioning between themselves and their vehicles. Aiello reverses course, and walks out of the camera shot toward the police vehicles.
In the report, Sgt. Stocker said he left his patrol car at the scene in order to drive the Chief’s Tahoe home, while Ortiz drove the Chief.
Aiello is still the chief, however he was recently suspended without pay following an Internal Affairs Investigation by the Warren County Prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor prepared a confidential report accusing the Chief of violating “in significant ways” numerous Township and police policies, as well as motor vehicle laws, according to a Township resolution memorializing his suspension without pay.
After an ongoing disciplinary hearing into Aiello’s actions during an unrelated 2017 police chase is concluded, Aiello will face another disciplinary hearing for this incident. A Hearing Officer will make recommendations regarding the Chief’s employment. Aiello’s attorney told RNJ that they will also request that hearing be public, despite the Chief’s right to a private hearing.