NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio –
North Olmsted Police officers at 1:28 p.m. on Jan. 23 responded to the Walmart parking regarding a traffic altercation in which a suspect was accused of representing himself as a police officer.
The complainant said he had been sitting in his black 2020 BMW four-door when a man began video recording his car and appeared to focus on the area where a rear license plate should have been. The suspect then approached the driver-side window like how police officers behave during a traffic stop, according to a police report. The suspect told the complainant that he would be going to jail because it was illegal to drive a car without a license plate.
The complainant said he felt the suspect was not a real police officer and that the situation was escalating. He attempted to leave the parking lot. However, the suspect charged toward the fleeing BMW on foot before jumping into a silver Volkswagen Jetta and chasing the BMW. The silver Jetta followed the BMW along Brookpark Road, and the Jetta’s driver turned on a flashing lightbar mounted on the dash during the chase. The chase reached high speeds, and the suspect came very close to striking the BMW, according to the complainant’s statement to the police.
The driver of the BMW eventually got away and telephoned the police department. He met officers back at the Walmart parking lot. The complainant said he “100 percent” believed the suspect was attempting to impersonate a police officer and “100 percent” was in fear for his personal safety.
A female passenger in the BMW corroborated the driver’s statements.
Officers began searching for and stopped the Volkswagen Jetta nearby. The driver was wearing a sweater that was “similar in appearance to a police uniform sweater,” according to the police report. He also wore a belt with several live rounds of 22-caliber ammunition prominently displayed along the length of the belt. In his wallet, the suspect had a badge shaped coin affixed in a manner that a police officer’s badge would be displayed. The suspect also made statements of being “associated” with the Bay Village Police Department.
The suspect’s vehicle had an orange light bar mounted on the dashboard. The VIN on the vehicle dashboard was obscured by a playing card and a Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association card, according to the police report. The license plate number on the vehicle had been altered.
An officer reviewed the video on the suspect’s phone. The first video showed the suspect walking around the victim’s vehicle and filming the lack of a license plate. The second video showed the suspect “pursuing” the victim’s vehicle while flashing orange lights. The suspect states on the video that he is following a black BMW with no license plate occupied by two at approximately 80 mph. The phone had been mounted on the dash.
The suspect said he was merely video recording the BMW because he is a fan of that make of automobile. He said when he observed the vehicle didn’t have a license plate, he tried to notify the driver. The suspect said when the BMW took off at a high rate of speed, he began following the car to call the police department with information about a reckless driver. However, he didn’t explain why he never called the police department. He said someone else must have altered his license plate number, and he had the light bar in his car in case he ever encountered a driver in distress. He said he turned on the light bar to warn other drivers of the car in front of him.
The suspect was charged with altering a vehicle identification number, a fifth-degree felony. He also faces misdemeanor charges of possessing criminal tools, impersonating a police officer, menacing, and fictitious plates.
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