Body cam captures argument as West Jordan City Councilman cited for hit-and-run after leaving bar

Posted at 10:11 PM, Jul 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-29 00:11:21-04

WEST JORDAN, Utah – An officer’s body camera captured an argument between police and a city council member after he allegedly was involved in a hit-and-run outside of a bar.

Witnesses called police after saying they saw West Jordan City Councilman Jeff Haaga leaving a bar while intoxicated, and they said he hit another vehicle but left the scene afterward.

“You know I’m a councilman,” Haaga can be heard saying to police who responded to his home.

“This is not your city," the councilman added.

Lt. Matt Pennington of the South Jordan Police Department said Haaga tried to argue with the officer’s authority to cite him.

“He was having some argument with our officers that we didn't have jurisdiction to be there, which wasn’t the case,” he said.

West Jordan police fielded the reports, but because the case involved a city councilman they contacted South Jordan PD to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

Police said Haaga was at a West Jordan bar last Tuesday during lunchtime.

“I went to lunch, I had two beers,” Haaga says on the video.

Pennington said witnesses reported the man was impaired beyond the point of a couple of beers.

“They described him as being intoxicated as well, at one point they described him as having a difficult time standing up and even knowing where he was,” he said.

Reports state that when Haaga tried to get in his car, someone took his keys and offered to give him a ride home. Haaga told police he accepted that ride but later walked back to the bar with his spare set of keys.

That’s when police say he got in his car and struck another vehicle while backing out.

“You're saying I hit a car, that doesn't sound like me,” Haaga told officers.

But 30 minutes into the conversation his story changes.

“I can't explain, I did hit a car, I think I did,” Haaga said during the video.

Haaga told police he was assaulted and targeted because he is a councilman, and he said that when people were trying take his keys, they were assaulting him.

“Do you know it's a felony? An assault on a city councilman," Haaga states on the video.

"An assault is a class B misdemeanor,” the officer responds.

Police cited Haaga for a hit and run.

Officer: “This for you Jeff is a citation, it's a ticket."

Haaga: “I want the police.”

Officer: “We are the police Jeff.”

Haaga: “You don't have authority here.”

Officer: “I absolutely do Jeff.”

The officer continues: “Will you listen to me for a second? All this is is a citation for failing to remain at the scene of an accident. We were this close to arresting you for DUI. We were this close, and realistically I probably should.”

Pennington said there were several factors in the decision not to make a DUI arrest.

“The officers were kind of on the fence with the DUI, and there’s a few reasons as to why they didn’t decide to go down that road, one of them is he wasn’t in physical control of his vehicle any longer,” he said. “He had been home for quite some time, approximately an hour, and his vehicle was in the garage, so it’s tough to tie that together and go backwards at that point.”

Police said they would have handled the situation the same way regardless of who was involved.  FOX 13 News has reached out to Haaga for comment on the incident, but so far he has not responded. A court date has not yet been set in the case.