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City Accused of Empowering Bogus Cop

(CN) - A small North Carolina city is willfully encouraging a local man to impersonate a police officer, despite his lack of qualifications to do such work, according to a lawsuit filed by a man pulled over by the fake cop.

In a lawsuit filed in the federal court in Raleigh, N.C., plaintiff Calvin Norton says he was driving his Jaguar X-type sedan with two passengers in September 4, 2104, when he was pulled over by Jeffrey Rosier.

Norton says he had notice he was being followed by a Dodge Charger -- the same type of car used by many police departments -- and that the driver, Rosier, signaled to him to pull over by flashing "police type" blue lights at him.

"Up until this point, Plaintiff had no reason to believe that the Charger was not an actual patrol car of a law enforcement agency with jurisdiction, driven by a law enforcement officer with arrest powers and authorized to use force, and reasonably believed that he had to comply with blue lights or be prosecuted for fleeing from law enforcement," Norton says.

The complaint says Rosier stepped out of the charger, walked to the Norton's driver-side window and told him to "Slow this car down."

Norton says he was surprised because he wasn't speeding at the time or violating any other law. He says he was also surprised Rosier did not ask him for his license, registration or insurance during the encounter.

Norton claims that when Rosier say two other individuals in the Jaguar he returned to his car, turned off the blue lights, "and hurriedly drove away."

The plaintiff says on further investigation, he learned that Rosier is currently enrolled in a basic law enforcement training program at a local community college, that he has not been certified as a law enforcement officer and won't be until May 2015, assuming he successfully completes the course and passes a state exam.

Norton says he also believes Rosier has a North Carolina concealed handgun permit, but that he is not authorized to exercise the firearm privileges of a law enforcement officer.

"Mr. Rosier at all times relevant has never been a certified law enforcement officer in North Carolina, has no arrest powers, and no authority to use force or threat of force except in defense of self and others from clear and present danger of death or grave bodily injury, or to detain a suspect per NCGS §15A-404 until law enforcement arrives, as any citizen may do," Norton says.

"Nevertheless, the City issued Mr. Rosier a City-owned purple Dodge Charger equipped with blue lights and siren and authorized him to drive it both on official business and as a personal vehicle, including back and forth to his second home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina."

Since Rosier is not a police officer, Norton says, "there are no circumstances under which he may lawfully operate blue lights, but the City of Whiteville let him have them anyway."

"As the City deliberately decided to appoint Mr. Rosier to a policymaking position as Chief of Police, and then issue him a patrol car with blue lights, the City has a policy and custom and enabling Mr. Rosier to impersonate a law enforcement officer, even though many qualified and certified candidates for the job are readily available all over North Carolina," Norton says.

He seeks compensatory and punitive damages on claims Rosier violated his 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure, violated North Carolina state law, and deprived him of his common law right to liberty without justification.

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