Howell, NJ – A Howell Township Police Officer came under fire after he stopped and ticketed a man who was driving his pregnant wife to the hospital.
But the bodycam video shows that the man's complaint against the officer was far from accurate.
The anonymous driver recounted his story in the Lakewood Scoop on Monday, where he took the opportunity to ask members of the public for “advice or suggestions” to help him “deal with” what the he called a “harrowing ordeal.”
The Howell Police Department defended the actions of Officer Anthony Marotto, and released his body camera footage to show the real story, NJ.com reported.
Officer Marotto stopped a 2010 Toyota Sienna at 11:57 p.m. on November 14, after he found the vehicle traveling 78 miles per hour in a 50 mile per hour speed zone.
The male driver told Officer Marotto that his wife was in “advanced labor.” He said he was taking her to the hospital because the doctor just called to told them to come in.
While they were driving, the man's wife told him the baby was coming, and he "picked up speed, without realizing I was going way over the speed limit," he said in his story to the Lakewood Scoop.
The man complied with the officer’s request to provide his license, registration and insurance information.
Officer Marotto told the man to “sit tight for a few minutes,” and pointed out that the man was traveling “almost 80 miles an hour.”
Officer Marotto then returned to his vehicle to write the man a speeding ticket.
When Officer Marotto went back to the couple’s vehicle, the man said something inaudible and the officer asked the couple if they wanted him to call an ambulance for help. They declined, and instead requested a police escort to the hospital.
“No, we don’t do that,” Officer Marotto said. “That’s what ambulances are for.”
Officer Marotto repeatedly offered to call an ambulance for the woman. “Are you sure?” he asked her in the video. “I can call them and they can at least follow you or take you up there...”
The couple continued to refuse assistance, at which point Officer Marotto offered one last caution.
“Slow down, because if you have an accident and don’t get to the hospital...especially tonight, there are a lot of deer out tonight,” he said. “Are you sure you don’t want an ambulance before you leave?”
The man again declined Officer Marotto’s offer.
"The operator, not the officer, then prolongs the stop asking who he can call to 'explain the situation' and address the ticket despite reports to the contrary," Howell Township Police Chief Andrew J. Kudrick Jr. said, according to the Patch.
In his statement to the Lakewood Scoop, the man said his wife gave birth to their baby “20 minutes after the officer let us go.” He provided a photo of a hospital bracelet that showed a time of 12:30 a.m., but redactions rendered it difficult to tell whether that was the time the woman was admitted or when she actually gave birth.
“He left me stranded close to 15 minutes while my wife was moaning away,” the man told the Lakewood Scoop.
Police contend that the traffic stop lasted for nine minutes and 29 seconds, and that Officer Marotto gave the man the summons six minutes after he pulled the vehicle over, NJ.com reported.
The department further stated that Officer Marotto would have acted against department policies if he would have escorted the couple’s vehicle to the hospital.
"The interaction during the stop was polite and respectful. Both the operator of the vehicle, his pregnant wife and the officer were calm, respectful and courteous to one another," the department told NJ.com.
"We certainly understand how stressful the moments leading up to birth can be, especially on a woman, and we commend them for their respectful demeanor under the circumstances. However, the officer acted appropriately and any suggestion that the officer's conduct was improper, unprofessional or inhumane simply contradicts the video evidence."
"We are happy to hear the occupants arrived safely at the hospital and had a successful delivery,” the department’s statement said. “We wish them the best.”
You can watch Officer Marotto's body cam video of the stop below.