Massachusetts Lawyer Charged With Impersonating . . . A Transformer?

decepticoncar-300x225It appears that a Massachusetts man has been arrested for impersonating a transformer. Barricade (an evil Decepticon) to be exact. The driver had his Maserati “dipped” to resemble the character and was pulled over in Braintree, Massachusetts. His car has the words “Decepticons punish and enslave” painted along the side. It is not clear if the officer was a Decepticon or just a clueless deputy. He faces fines of $1000 or more, probation or, in the most extreme cases, up to five years in jail for impersonating an officer.

The driver (whose name has not been released) was not arrested but later charged and summoned to court.

The driver is in his 20s and a University of Massachusetts-Amherst graduate . . . and obviously a Transformers fan.

He was pulled over by Officer Blake Holt of the Braintree Police on August 9 and later charged with impersonating a police officer. It did not likely help that, when he was pulled over, he allegedly told the officer that he was doing the police a service “because other drivers noticed him and slowed down, thinking it was a police vehicle.” That might be seen as an admission against interest, counselor.

It is not clear how the identification with an evil Decepticon might prejudice a more Optimus Prime jury. He may want to use the closing argument of Optimus Prime “We live among its people now, hiding in plain sight, but watching over them in secret, waiting, protecting. I have witnessed their capacity for courage, and though we are worlds apart, like us, there’s more to them than meets the eye.”

braintree-patrol-carHere is the Braintree police car which does bear some resemblance but usually the cruisers are Chryslers not Maserati. The latter cost some $100,000 a unit — not including the Transformers paint job.

The charge is clearly meritless, even with the driver’s ill-considered alleged statement to the officer. There are strong first amendment claims as well as challenges on the constitutionality of the law as applied. Citizens are allowed to drive cars built to resemble any number of items or movies from hot dogs to Ghostbusters.

The actual statutory provision states:

609.475 IMPERSONATING OFFICER.
Whoever falsely impersonates a police or military officer or public official with intent to mislead another into believing that the impersonator is actually such officer or official is guilty of a misdemeanor.
History: 1963 c 753 art 1 s 609.475; 1971 c 23 s 49; 1986 c 444

Here the defendant clearly lacked intent to impersonate a police officer. He wants to be a transformer. In the end, it was the police who most resembled Barricade who always insisted : “I’m always the Bad Cop. And don’t bother asking for the Good Cop. I killed him.”

Putting aside the legal niceties, I would simply not mess with Barricade without a stronger case of probable cause:

Kudos: Michael Blott

31 thoughts on “Massachusetts Lawyer Charged With Impersonating . . . A Transformer?”

    1. John – maybe they are upset because “punish and enslave” is the motto of Braintree.

  1. The defendant needs to walk into court with a raw pig brain on his tee shirt with a drawing of a tree under it on the shirt. Braintree. Get it?

  2. Elsewhere…. Ronald McDonald was arrested and charged with impersonating the President of the United States,

  3. Maybe this officer was doing the public a vital service. The car after all has cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks… Think of the risk to the public.

  4. The only thing working against this kid here is his own statement that other drivers were in fact fooled into thinking his car was a police cruiser… The fact that he knew that was happening and kept doing it could show intent. Absent that statement, there just isn’t any impersonation of a police officer happening here…

  5. Is there a law that there can be no black cars with white doors? Because any car with that paint pattern, would look like a cop car from a distance. Can law enforcement and lawyers tell me if the paint pattern is enough to be considered impersonating a police officer? Unless there is an actual law banning the paint pattern, it doesn’t seem fair to charge someone if that is the only evidence.

    Because clearly anyone who has “Decepticon” painted on the door is not trying to fool anyone.

  6. Actually, I do not see his statement as an admission of guilt because he clearly thought they were fooled into thinking it was a police car. Using this logic the entire staff at Best Buy is going to jail.

  7. I am sure there are many Crown Vic police interceptors still on the road but the last orders were accepted circa 2011.

    Now if you want to drive a new Ford police car it’s gotta be a Taurus.

    I am sure there are many who lament the passing of the rear wheel drive, body on frame, V-8 police car.

    How will they ever stuff all that police gear in a Taurus or a Charger?

  8. Many surplus police cars are sold still painted black and white like this, simply with the lights and the police emblems removed.

    All “Geek Squad” cars from Best Buy’s service fleet are painted black and white in a similar scheme, but you don’t hear of many clueless deputies trying to issue summons to the corporate giant either do you.

    It is easy to pick on a little guy, though it seems he probably picked the wrong little guy this time.

    At least he didn’t shoot him, beat the dog crap out of him, Taze him, or arrest him where he could somehow resist while incarcerated. Still, any “introduction to the criminal justice system” carries with it ENORMOUS burdens and costs, even when the defendent is victorious. Until we change things so that somehow officers are penalized for frivolous, warrantless, or incorrect arrrests, citations, and prosecutions (not to mention the abuses of their authority), making them more accountable and responsike for their actions – then We The People will continue to suffer greatly at their hands and the overall cost to society will be imessurabmy great. (Now there’s a research project!)

  9. He’d have been all right if not for the words “Punish and Enslave” –
    No wonder they mistook him for one of their own.

  10. Chryslers? That’s a Ford in the photo. Which is what most police cars are these days. The Ford Crown Victoria.

    Though I’ve seem some other ones more recently.

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