Newly released bodycam video shows the moment a police officer came in contact with a teenager pretending to be a sheriff’s deputy in Albuquerque, according to police.
Brenden Wysynski was arrested and charged as an adult with impersonating a peace officer on Monday September 9, a criminal complaint obtained by CNN affiliate KOAT said.
Wysynski did not respond to a Facebook message seeking comment. He has entered a not guilty statement.
His public defender, Carlos Scarborough said in a statement that they commonly don’t see this type of charge.
At 12:30 a.m. Monday morning, a police officer with the Albuquerque Police Department said he was driving north on 4th St. near I-40 in Albuquerque, when he saw a car with red and blue flashing lights on it conducting what appeared to be a traffic stop, according to the complaint.
The officer drove by the cars when Wysynski waved at him, according to the complaint. That’s when the officer says he turned around and stopped to find out what was going on.
Wysynski, 18, identified himself and was wearing, according to the officer, “regular clothing” and a star-shaped badge on his belt, the complaint said. He told the APD officer that he had worked for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department for three years, police say.
“I know, I know I’m underequipped,” Wysynski can be heard saying in the APD body cam video.
When asked why he was conducting a traffic stop, Wysynski told the officer the white SUV he stopped had been driving 120 mph.
“I was just heading over there to the courthouse,” Wysynski said in the body cam video. “I know it makes no sense, I caught him going 120 down I-40.”
The officer asked for ID and about Wysynski’s makeshift flashing blue and red lights attached to his car.
The officer told Wysynski to give the motorist he had unlawfully pulled over their documents back and the white SUV left the area, according to the complaint.
In the body cam video, the officer can be seen asking for a supervisor to assist him when Wysynski begins the conversation again.
“For starters, I know this looks really bad,” Wysynski said in the body cam video.
While waiting for a BCSO supervisor to arrive at the scene, police say Wysynski gave his birth year as 1994, but police later confirmed he was born in 2001.
Wysynski eventually willingly admitted that he wasn’t employed by BCSO and bought the badge online, according to the criminal complaint.
“I’m just gonna be straight-up with you,” Wysynski said in the body cam video. “I’m not a cop.”
When supervisors from both APD and BCSO arrived, Wysynski changed his story and told them the badge belonged to his late father, according to the complaint. When officers questioned him on that, he later admitted that he in fact bought the badge online, the complaint said.
Wysynski’s attorney, Scarborough, said in a statement that his client was released on his own recognizance — meaning he signed a written statement that he will show up to scheduled court appearances and not do anything illegal while waiting for a court date. In the state, those arrested on misdemeanor charges who don’t have a prior criminal history are often released on their own recognizance, said Maggie Shepard, communications specialist at the New Mexico Law Offices of the Public Defender.
Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III from BCSO told CNN he’s grateful the officer intervened when he did.
“Incidents like this are extremely concerning and can impact our community greatly,” he said in a statement. “This individual was removed from our streets and will be held accountable for violating our public’s trust in law enforcement.”
“I think it showed great police work on behalf on our officer,” Gilbert Gallegos with APD told CNN. “He wanted to see if the officer needed help, but when things didn’t look right he took the time to figure it out.”
At the end of the body cam video, the officer can be heard explaining what happened during his exchange with Wysynski.
“It was just really weird,” the officer said on the body cam video.
Wysynski’s next hearing is scheduled for November 6.