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Martinsville Man Arrested For Impersonating Police Officer
Updated August 10, 2015 7:58 AM | Filed under: Crime
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fake police vehi.jpg
Ewert was driving this Crown Victoria, which looks a lot like a police car.

(WEST LAFAYETTE) - A Martinsville man using emergency lights and some risky maneuvers to get around a traffic jam off northbound I-65 is now facing charges of impersonating a police officer.

As traffic snarled around the shut down I-65 bridge in Tippecanoe County Wednesday, police say 23-year-old Justin Ewert of Martinsville decided to clear his own path. It was all witnessed by an off-duty police officer struck in the same traffic jam.

Ewert has worked various security jobs in and around Indianapolis. Police say he was driving a decked-out police cruiser, reportedly performing a risky move to change lanes, nearly side-swiping the off-duty West Lafayette officer.

The officer says Ewert then flipped on a bar of white lights to try to force his car out of the way. Real police lights are red and blue.

"A car that looks like a squad car leap frogging through traffic pretty quickly, and he thought it was sort of reckless behavior," says West Lafayette Police Capt. Gary Sparger. "When the car got close to him it turned on an overhead light almost like a police car, but it had white lights instead of blue lights."

The officer noticed Ewert's black and silver Crown Victoria had everything a normal squad car would have - handcuffs, a spotlight handle, a mounted camera, even a laptop. He became even more suspicious when he saw a state police memorial license plate.

The off-duty officer radioed dispatchers, telling them to pull Ewert over at US 231 and Cumberland. There, he was arrested for impersonating a police officer - a Class B felony - and carrying a handgun without a license. Police found a loaded 9 millimeter semi-automatic handgun.

A Tippecanoe County Sheriff's spokesman says Ewert was not dressed in a uniform and was reportedly heading to a small town to apply for a reserve police officer position.

"He had said he worked security down in Indianapolis, and basically that he had set the car up that way so that he could put in the parking lot where he worked and people thought it was a police car," Capt. Sparger added. "So it would deter people from bad behavior."

Sparger says whether the equipment was meant for good intentions, it's still against the law, and for good reason.

"People need to be able to trust that when they're getting pulled over the car behind them that's asking them to yield is an actual police officer," Capt. Sparger added.

He was released from jail Friday on a $500 bond and will head to court August 28.

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