RADFORD, Va. (WFXR) — After Del. Chris Hurst — the Democrat who ran for reelection for the House of Delegates’ 12th District — was pulled over Monday night following reports of vandalized political signs in Radford, police shared body camera footage of the incident with WFXR News.
Officials say a deputy from the Radford City Sheriff’s Office notified the Radford City Police Department about a possible vandalism in progress near the Radford Rec Center, which is a polling precinct in the city.
The police report says that the deputy saw a woman tampering with election signs on the corner of George Street and 2nd Avenue. The deputy then continued up George Street in order to turn around and was passed by a dark SUV, which stopped for the woman to get into the passenger seat.
After the deputy initiated a traffic stop for the SUV on Walker Street, an officer arrived, identified both people involved in the incident, took a statement from the deputy, and confirmed that a number of political signs — all of which were signs for Republican candidates — near the polling precinct were damaged.
According to the police report from the officer at the scene, the occupants of the vehicle were identified as Del. Chris Hurst and Emily Frentress, who WFXR News confirmed is Hurst’s girlfriend.
The department shared photos of several campaign signs for Hurst’s Republican opponent Jason Ballard — as well as Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin and Republican attorney general candidate Jason Miyares — that were flipped upside down, knocked over, and/or damaged.
In Virginia, it is against state law to illegally remove or vandalize campaign signs.
Police say Hurst originally denied any involvement in the removal or damage of campaign signs while Frentress did not say much.
Then, after skating around the subject of the sign tampering, Hurst told the officer he didn’t feel like the officer had the right to ask him about the signs and that “a little hijinks and steam blowing off is exactly what everyone on the other side of the mountain does and people all over this district do,” as seen in the bodycam footage.
The report states that Hurst went on to say he was sorry for actions that he or his partner might have done, but told the officer that the officer just needed to do his job and that Hurst would do his.
You can read more of the exchange between the Radford police officer and Hurst from the bodycam footage below:
Officer: “I think what you all need to do is after I deal with you here is go back and fix those signs. What do you think? You’ve got to resort to doing this, instead of doing a fair election? Chris, quit, quit playing!”
Hurst: “What playing?”
Officer: “Quit playing! You all are up there turning over signs at the polling area and you’re sitting here acting like you don’t know what’s going on?”
Hurst: “I just think that your reaction seems to be, I don’t know, I really don’t feel like me responding to any questions that an officer has for me that are kind of asking me to make a value statement, I think that’s really kind of immaterial to the question here. Here’s what I would say is that I would think that something that was a little hijinks and steam blowing off is exactly what everybody over on the other side of the mountain does and people all over this district do.”
Officer: “So you’re going to resort to that and represent us?”
Hurst: “I need you to just do your job here tonight and I’ll do mine. I have nothing more to say to you, officer. I’m sorry for actions that I may have done or my partner may have done, but I think you’re getting a little emotional here.”
Officer: “I’m not getting emotional at all. You’re supposed to be representing us. You’re supposed to be here representing us and not out here acting like a school kid. How am I supposed to vote for you if you’re out here doing this?”
Hurst: “Were you planning on voting for me?”
Officer: “Well, that’s all up in the air now.”
Hurst: “I’m sorry if I lost your support, sir.”
According to authorities, the delegate was given a notice for driving on a suspended license after letting his insurance lapse. The officer then told Hurst that he and Frentress needed to return to the polling area and fix the signs with which they had tampered.
The delegate reportedly agreed and then Frentress drove Hurst back to George Street and the couple fixed approximately 10 to 16 signs that had been pulled up and laid down, bent over, or placed upside down on their bases.
At the request of Radford City Police Chief Jeff Dodson, the department says the matter has been transferred to Virginia State Police.
You can watch the full 26-minute video shared by the Radford City Police Department below: