How the heck does this stuff happen???
DALLAS, Texas â€” A 21-year-old man claiming to be in the military helped Dallas patrol officers answer calls and make arrests, and he accompanied them on a ride-along, but officials say he was the one taking police for a ride.
The impostor, identified as Ryan Caskey, wore a bulletproof vest and carried a U.S. Marine military police badge and a Glock, which he reportedly drew from its holster as he kicked in a door at a Far North Dallas apartment.
Authorities said Caskey, who is wanted for questioning, claimed to be in an FBI task force, had the cop lingo and swagger down pat, and followed officers in his black Crown Victoria with red and blue flashing lights in the dashboard.
â€œThey just assumed that with his credentials that he was legit,â€ said Lt. Andy Harvey, a Dallas police spokesman. â€œI guess the more he did, the more he felt comfortable doing it.â€
Authorities are expected to obtain a warrant accusing Caskey of impersonating a public servant, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, police said. He could not be reached for comment.
Police officials are still trying to untangle how Caskey won the trust of officers on the streets, but they know that he once rode along in a squad car, befriended a police officer who lived in the same apartment complex and served in the military with a Dallas cop. Police believe he answered calls with officers over about a two-week period.
Officials also are looking into reports that he may have tagged along with officers from at least three other local police agencies.
Caskey is described as 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes. The car he was driving bore Texas license plate DN84L. Police say he should be considered armed and dangerous, and anyone with information about his whereabouts should call 911.
A woman who was present on a call that Caskey answered last week with Dallas police said he came into her apartment with his gun drawn, wearing a bulletproof vest and acting like he was one of them.
â€œI feel very unsafe because he came into my house,â€ said the woman who asked that she not be named because she feared retaliation. â€œIf he isnâ€™t a real police officer, he could have shot me.â€
According to a Dallas police report, Caskey answered at least six police calls with rookie police Officer Andrea Cotty, who was hired in 2007. Each time, he followed her in his Crown Victoria, a car commonly driven by police officers.
On Thursday, Caskey followed Cotty as she answered a call at the womanâ€™s Far North Dallas apartment. She had called for help because she thought someone she knew was trying to break in.
As the woman and her friend hid in a bathroom, Cotty and Caskey arrived at the apartment to find the door locked, a police report said. A supervisor gave Cotty permission to kick in the door because they feared the suspect might be inside, the report said.
It was Caskey who kicked in the door, police said.
â€œHe seemed real relaxed and calm,â€ the woman said.
The woman and her friend said they both thought it odd that the man had on jeans. They thought he might be with some kind of specialized police unit.
â€œHe did most of the talking,â€ said the friend, who also requested that she not be named. At one point, she said, he stayed in the apartment with her while the police officer went outside.
When Sgt. Scott Massey, the supervisor who had given permission to kick in the door, arrived at the scene, he began questioning Caskey and asked to see his badge, said Harvey, the police spokesman.
â€œHe asked him some questions, and there was something not right about his responses,â€ Harvey said. â€œHe was supposed to be a part of some FBI task force. That was his story, but it just didnâ€™t add up.â€
After Caskey left, Massey reported his suspicions to detectives, who determined that he was not what he claimed to be.
â€œSince this sergeant questioned his legitimacy, he has not been seen,â€ Harvey said.
Little is known about Caskey, but he does not appear to have a criminal history. And although has a concealed-weapons permit, the law forbids him from carrying the handgun openly, police said. Such a violation is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Unfortunately, Dallas is not alone in being taken by impostors.
In Chicago, a 14-year-old boy recently conned police officers into believing that he was a cop, according to media accounts. The teen entered an unlocked door at a patrol station, was issued a radio and rode with an officer for several hours.
The teen, who was not legally old enough to drive, also drove a squad car and helped handcuff a suspect.
A supervisor discovered the ruse when he noticed that the teen did not have a badge or a gun. Seven officers were disciplined over the incident.
Itâ€™s unclear at this point whether the Dallas officers broke any rules during their encounters with Caskey.
â€œWe should know who is with us when weâ€™re conducting official business,â€ Harvey said. â€œHow far do we go? If he has a badge, if he looks official, how far are we supposed to go?â€