SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico man accused of impersonating a police officer
SANTA FE – Oops.
An armed man who police say pretended to be a cop made a major mistake Wednesday when he turned on emergency lights attached to the roof of his truck and stopped a truck on a rural stretch of highway east of Las Vegas, N.M.
The two men he pulled over and accused of speeding turned out to be the real deal – State Police agents traveling in an unmarked vehicle.
When questioned by the real cops, John Shelton, 26, of Logan claimed to be a member of the New Mexico State Police Search and Rescue team, an emergency medical technician and a firefighter, and said he was being trained as a law enforcement officer, according to a statement issued by State Police on Thursday. Regardless, none of those positions would authorize him to make a traffic stop.
The State Police investigators had “fairly urgent” police business connected to a trial and initially gave Shelton a warning and let him go, according to State Police spokesman Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez.
But the officers decided afterward they should try to find Shelton again and charge him with impersonating an officer.
When Shelton drove back by the officers on the same highway, between Las Vegas and Trementina, they flagged him down and arrested him.
The agents also determined that none of what Shelton had said about his connections to law enforcement was true.
“He was just pulling stuff out of his you-know-what,” said Gutierrez.
The State Police are now asking anyone else who may have been pulled over or hassled by Shelton to come forward by calling the State Police Investigations Bureau in Las Vegas at 505-425-6771.
Gutierrez said there are possible dangers from someone acting like a police officer on what he described as “a very desolate stretch of road.”
Shelton, driving a white Dodge truck, pulled up behind the agents’ vehicle, which was traveling east on the highway. When he closed the distance between the two trucks and turned on his red-and-white emergency lights, the agents – from the State Police Investigations Bureau – thought the driver behind them was a fellow officer.
After they stopped, Shelton, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans and with a pistol on his hip, approached the driver’s side of the agents’ truck and told them he “pulled them over” for speeding, according to the statement.
When the agents asked if he was a commissioned police officer, Shelton made his claims about being an EMT, a search and rescue team member, a fireman and in training to be in law enforcement.
The agents told him to be careful and that he had no authority to conduct traffic stops before letting him go, then returning later to arrest him.
Shelton was booked into the San Miguel County Detention Center on a $2,000 cash-only bond on a charge of impersonating an officer.