CARTER COUNTY, Okla. -- A Marietta man claims he was beaten by three men who posed as police officers. Robin Beal has the details in this First News exclusive.
Jesse Whittington was headed northbound on Interstate 35 Saturday night. He was about two miles north of Ardmore when he saw what looked like flashing police lights come up behind him.
Whittington thought it was a routine traffic stop, but it didn't take Jesse long to figure out this one was anything but routine.
"They didn't really ask me anything. They just proceeded to do what they wanted to do," Whittington says.
Handcuffed, Whittington watched as his SUV was searched by three men with guns. The men were trying to look like police officers.
"It was kind of like a black button-up shirt with a shield just hanging' off. It didn't have no pockets…it was just pinned there..."
The clothing alone may not have been enough to raise the red flag, but what Whittington says happened next, certainly was.
"I mean I started getting suspicious when they done, I mean usually they'll run your driver's license usually first -- but they just handed it back to me and told me they'd be right back. Then I really got suspicious when they started searching the truck without consent."
Did they ask you for insurance?
"They didn't ask me for insurance, they didn't ask me for registration or anything, just asked for my driver's license..."
Did they ask you for money, did they ask you for anything unusual?
"No -- they never did ask me for anything unusual."
Did they ask you what your name was?
"No. They didn't really seem concerned about who I was."
Lt. Danny Morris is with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol in Ardmore.
"Yes it does concern me because it's wrong for a person to get out there and impersonate an officer. It is a felony in this state," Lt. Morris says.
Morris’s OHP office -- Troop 'F' -- has no record of any traffic stop involving Jesse Whittington over the weekend.
"None at all. No knowledge of that. Have not heard anything about that until you contacted me today."
Perhaps the most frightening for Jesse was when he says the men became violent, kicking him in the head and shoving him down an embankment. He wasn't speeding, not doing anything wrong. The men didn't take any money from him and didn't take anything from his vehicle.
So what did they want from him?
"I have no idea," Jesse says.
The Whittingtons live in Marietta and spoke with Love County authorities Tuesday night. They plan to file assault charges in Carter County, where the incident occurred, on Wednesday. Of course, they don't know who to file charges against just yet. Carter County Sheriff Ken Grace also spoke with Mr. Whittington Tuesday evening on the telephone.
The sheriff told KXII-TV he plans to vigorously pursue an investigation and find the three men who are apparently playing policeman.
If you are ever in a situation similar to Mr. Whittington’s and feel suspicious about being pulled over, authorities say you should always pull over to the shoulder and slow down when you see those lights behind you, but they also say you are completely within your rights to drive to a well-lighted area at a reasonable speed. And, if you have any doubts, don't just take a badge as proof of identification. Ask to see an official I.D. card identifying the person as a peace officer. Of course if you do feel like you have been stopped by someone posing as an officer, call 9-1-1.