Teens face charges for impersonating police officersFive teens placed red-and-blue-colored strobe lights in a vehicle, wore clothing printed with the word "police," and donned belts equipped with plastic handcuffs and leg holsters holding BB guns as they took part in prank stops of four vehicles last month, police say.
By: By Dan Holtz, The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Superior Telegram
Five teens placed red-and-blue-colored strobe lights in a vehicle, wore clothing printed with the word "police," and donned belts equipped with plastic handcuffs and leg holsters holding BB guns as they took part in prank stops of four vehicles last month, police say.
Some of the people stopped by the teens pretending to be police officers were acquaintances of the teens -- who recorded all of the stops, police said.
The apparent prank led to misdemeanor criminal charges against all five teens.
Wesley S. Harris, 18, 3110 Davis Drive, and four Altoona residents -- Zachary D. Manney, 17, 504 Fifth St. E., Shane R. McKee, 18, 1512 Nottingham Way, Steven R. Schlewitz, 18, 1227 Hayden Ave., and Gavin A. Tamborino, 17, 2020 High Point Drive, have each been charged in Eau Claire County Court with four counts of impersonating a peace officer.
Harris, Manney, McKee and Schlewitz are each free on $100 signature bonds. Tamborino was released on his own recognizance. All five teens return to court Oct. 4.
According to the criminal complaint:
A man told an Eau Claire County sheriff's deputy he turned onto Lowes Creek Road from Giese Road just after midnight on July 10 when a car approached him from behind at a high rate of speed.
The man saw red and blue flashing lights in the front windshield of the car. The man pulled over because he thought the car was a police vehicle.
Three men wearing black T-shirts with "police" printed on them approached the man's vehicle. The trio carried small flashlights and belts similar to police duty belts.
One of the teens pretending to be an officer told the man he had been pulled over for making a "rolling stop." Three other pretend officers then returned to their vehicle. About 30 seconds later they told the man everything checked out and he was free to go.
The man called the Sheriff's Department because he believed one of the pretend officers was McKee, an acquaintance. Before the deputy arrived, the man received a text message from a friend who said the same thing had happened to her.
The woman told the deputy she was pulled over about 30 minutes before the man was stopped. She was stopped by three pretend officers. Two other males came out of the fake squad car. One of them had a video camera and told the woman the stop was a joke.
The woman said she didn't feel threatened and didn't recognize the five men.
Deputies contacted McKee at his residence, where they located the vehicle described by the people who were pulled over. The emergency lights were strobe lights covered with blue and red tape.
McKee identified the other four teens involved with the prank.
Two traffic stops were made on Lowes Creek Road in the town of Washington. A third stop was made July 9 on Botsford Avenue in Altoona, and the fourth stop, which occurred after July 14, involved three girls near Sam Davey School. The teens never told the girls they were not real police officers.
The video footage of all four stops was turned over to authorities.
If convicted, the teens could be sentenced to up to nine months in jail for each count.
Copyright (c) 2010, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis./Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.