HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Police Department is investigating the report of a man impersonating a police officer who pulled over a husband, wife and their 6-year-old son on the H1 Freeway this week.
It happened around 8 p.m. Monday on the H1 Freeway in Kaimuki, East bound, just before the 6th Avenue off ramp.
The family spoke to us on condition that we keep their identities secret, fearing retribution from the fake cop whom they reported to HPD.
"I glanced back and I saw lights and I just assumed that it was an officer and it wasn't until we were coming to a stop that it wasn't," the husband said.
He told Hawaii News Now his wife was driving a rental car when a white sedan pulled in back of them, the driver motioned for them to pull over and at first they saw flashing lights. But seconds later they realized there was one white flashing light and one yellow flashing light, no blue police lights.
So the husband said he got out of the car and said he saw an Asian man in his 30s get out of what they thought could have been an undercover police car wearing a t-shirt and shorts, and no police uniform.
"I asked what we had been pulled over for, and he said our tail lights," the man said. "And I pointed to our tail lights and I said 'Those tail lights that are on right now?' And he said 'yes.' And I asked him for a badge. And he didn't respond. Asked him for a badge again. He didn't respond again."
The couple's 6-year-old son was puzzled about why they'd been pulled over.
"And we weren't even speeding or anything," the boy said. "Well the only thing I know is he wasn't a real officer and he didn't even have a blue light. Only yellow and white."
The imposter then threatened the couple with arrest and said he was calling for police backup, the family said.
"Who knows what this guy's intentions were," the man said. "He could have been pulling us over just to flex his might and show that he is a big shot. Or he could have been trying to accost my wife or me or my son. Or take the car or take money. I don't know."
He said the situation ended with the couple yelling at the imposter, who ordered them to get back in their car, which they did, and then called 911 to report the incident.
Police are investigating and following up on leads, an HPD spokeswoman said. Officers told the couple they traced the license plate to the father of the suspect who has not been arrested and charged yet.
The police department said people pulled over by police can call 911 for verification and drive slowly to a well-lit area before stopping, simple advice the couple's son has learned from the episode.
"Maybe just keep on driving until you get to a public place," the boy told Hawaii News Now.
HPD also wants people to know that plain-clothes officers do not make traffic stops and would notify a uniformed officer to pull a vehicle over if they saw a traffic infraction.
The couple said police told them some criminals target tourists by going after people in rental cars. Their rental car from Budget had no smoking stickers stuck to windows on both sides of the car, making it fairly obvious it was a rental, the couple said.
In 1982, HPD banned its officers from using supplemental blue lights in the wake of the unsolved murder of Lisa Au, a 19-year-old Kailua hairdresser.
At the time, witnesses said they saw a police car with blue flashing grill lights behind Au's car in Kailua the night she disappeared, fueling speculation a police officer or an impersonator could have been responsible for her death.
A man walking his dog found Au's body on Tantalus about ten days after her car was discovered along the highway near the old Kailua Drive-in theater.