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Chesterfield council member believes publicity over Best Buy mask incident politically motivated

An incident that occurred nearly a month ago is now gaining traction and has been covered by nearly every news outlet in the St. Louis region.

The incident occurred Nov. 28 at a Best Buy store in Chesterfield and involved city council member Tom DeCampi (Ward 4).

DeCampi said he, his wife and their 19-year-old son had been walking in Faust Park and decided to stop at Best Buy in the Chesterfield Commons shopping center, as his son needed a projector for college.

DeCampi said that while he and his wife were wearing masks, his son had forgotten one. When his son went off on his own to look at projectors, about a half dozen Best Buy employees pursued him, DeCampi said.

DeCampi said he did take his mask off briefly to speak to store staff. That’s when he said the manager ran up to him shouting to get out or they would be arrested.

Chesterfield Police body camera video (screenshot) showing council member Tom DeCampi exiting the Best Buy store in Chesterfield Commons.

DeCampi said it was “very intimidating.” As they were exiting the store, two police officers showed up. In the police body camera video that has been posted online, the officer seems agitated to be responding to the call.

“I don’t know why we have to be called out here when you’re a city councilman,” he said.

While DeCampi wasn’t charged with anything, the officer did give the store manager his address, supposedly to send a letter banning him from all Best Buy stores in the St. Louis area.

The store manager can be heard on the video saying that DeCampi was “absolutely defiant” and that “customers were getting upset.”

Although a local reporter covered the event in his newsletter shortly after it happened, nothing much came of it until recently. DeCampi believes there’s a reason for that. On Dec. 15, he filed to run for office against Mayor Bob Nation in the upcoming April 6 election.

Nation was the one who posted the video online, along with an apology from the city. The message states:

“I have received numerous comments and questions from members of the public regarding recent media reports of an incident involving a City Councilman that refused to wear a mask inside one (of) our local retail establishments.

“Upon arrival, the officer was advised that a father and his teenage son had repeatedly been asked to wear their masks, as they were making customers uncomfortable. The manager indicated these individuals had also been asked to leave, but would not comply, and it was only after the manager called the police did they exit the store.”

Nation said he posted the apology in the interest of transparency and insists it is not politically motivated.

He said DeCampi’s refusal to apologize or make amends is what prompted him to post the statement.

“The council member made no apologies or amends or acknowledgements or anything,” Nation said. “He did nothing but blame his son.”

Now that people have been made aware of the incident, Nation insists that citizens are calling for DeCampi’s removal from office.

“I was getting overwhelming response from the community calling for his resignation,” Nation said.

Nation said he would have done this regardless of whether the councilman was running for office against him or not.

“I still feel an obligation to make an apology to the community,” he said.

Although the police end-of-shift report states that officers responded to a complaint of a customer refusing to wear a mask, in a message to DeCampi, Police Chief Ray Johnson stated that his officers were responding to a call for “trespassing and a disturbance.”

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