Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

January 15, 2014

Police: Teen posing as trooper went too far

Officials say he didn’t appear to intend harm, but commented on the ease with which he obtained trappings of the trade

TAHLEQUAH — Investigators say a local teenager with dreams of becoming a state trooper went too far last weekend when he decided it “might be cool to stop a car.”

Two women told deputies Sunday that an unidentified driver of a truck approached them at about 2:45 a.m. near Dry Creek. The pair were inside a vehicle parked outside the home of the brother of one woman.

When the teen made contact with the women, he asked for a license and registration and claimed he was responding to a noise complaint. The woman said the man was wearing a hooded shirt with “state trooper” printed in white letters, and flashing police lights appeared to be coming from a cell phone hanging inside the man’s truck.

After repeatedly asking the man for a badge, a passenger in the truck ran inside to get her brother. At that point, the 18-year-old got back into his truck and sped away.

According to Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault, Deputy Dexter Scott recognized the description of the man and his vehicle and pinpointed an 18-year-old Keys man whom Scott knew was interested in becoming a state trooper.

Scott, Chennault and an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper later met with the teen, who admitted to being the driver they were seeking.

“He told us he was out driving at around 8 Saturday night when a car passed by him at a high rate of speed, and that aggravated him, so he says he started flashing his lights at the car and they eventually pulled over,” said Chennault.

A man and woman were in that car, and when the 18-year-old began to question the couple, the man in the vehicle became agitated and the teen decided to leave.

“He got with a buddy later that night and told him what had happened, and they apparently thought it would be cool to try a traffic stop,” said Chennault. “They then went looking for a car and came across the two women who were in their vehicle already parked in a driveway.”

The teen told authorities the women asked to see a badge, so he began asking if they would take a breathalyzer test in an attempt to avert their attention. When one of the women ran inside to get her brother, the teen and his buddy left.

Chennault said the teen had downloaded police lights on a smart phone, and purchased the state trooper shirt from the Internet.

“It seems he had no intention of harming the women, and he swears he only made contact with those two vehicles,” said Chennault.

Chennault said the teen claims he never told the people he spoke with that he was a police officer. Still, investigators want the District Attorney’s Office to ultimately decide what action to take.

According to Chennault, the teen hasn’t been arrested because investigators aren’t sure how state law is to be interpreted.

“The statute prohibits trying to pass yourself off as a law enforcement officer, and from what we can tell, he didn’t actually identify himself as a trooper,” said Chennault. “We are going to write up our report and send it to the DA. We feel more comfortable letting prosecutors decide whether to charge him.”

Authorities seized the teenager’s state trooper shirt, and he voluntarily removed the phone app that mimics a police light.

“After we spoke with him, he was very remorseful,” said Chennault.

“We don’t have this happen often, but it raises alarms to us that you can use your phone to download a police-type light that is realistic enough, and that you can order law enforcement paraphernalia off the Internet without any type of identification.”

Drivers who see flashing lights and feel uneasy about a traffic stop can call 911 and ask dispatchers to verify that a known officer is making the stop.

“If you can, try to pull over in a well-lit or public area,” said Chennault. “Tell the dispatcher what area you’re in and provide as many details as possible.”

Chennault admits situations similar to the one last weekend, though rare, present difficult scenarios. He believes most officers will understand when a driver continues traveling until finding a well-lit or public area.

“It might aggravate the police officer at first, but if you can articulate you were in fear, he or she should understand,” said Chennault. “My suggestion is if you’re being stopped and want to find a well-lit or populated area, don’t speed up and don’t take evasive action, just continue driving the speed limit until you find a good place to pull over.”

Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case