Jury reaches verdict in fake officer case: Kenniston subjected motorists to phony traffic stops

Kevin Kenniston to be sentenced on January 9

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - A man who posed as a cop and subjected motorists to phony stops in Chula Vista was convicted Wednesday of 20 criminal charges, including impersonating a peace officer.

Kevin Alan Kenniston faces 24 years in state prison when he is sentenced Jan. 9 at the South Bay Courthouse. He is currently being held on $5 million bail.

"The defendant repeatedly preyed on drivers, using their respect for law enforcement to victimize them," said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. "Testimony also showed this defendant had a long history of domestic violence. This case is a reminder that violence can quickly escalate and victims or their loved ones should report it and seek help."

Jurors also convicted the 43-year-old defendant of breaking into his ex-girlfriend's apartment and assaulting her.

Deputy District Attorney William LaFonte told 10News, "When we hear that there's people with domestic violence history driving around in replica police cars pulling people over, that's of great concern, and Mr. Kenniston has been held accountable for that action."

Authorities said Kenniston used his replica car for a funeral escort business.

Kenniston was first arrested April 5, 2011, for using a black-and-white Ford Crown Victoria equipped with a siren, public-address system and roof-mounted lights to trick at least three motorists into pulling over.

In at least one of the cases, Kenniston used the phony traffic stop to deliver a 20-minute lecture to a victim about safe driving, police said.

In another stop, Kenniston used emergency lights and the public-address system to confront a driver who was parked near a red or yellow zone. When the woman ignored him, the defendant blocked her car and demanded her driver's license, registration and insurance.

"It started getting a little fishy and in my stomach I didn't feel too good about it," said victim Sparkle Anderson.

Anderson said Kenniston turned on his lights and siren, but never got out of the car and only drove off when a real officer pulled up.

"You know what, I'm just blessed that somebody was looking over me and nothing bad happened to me," Anderson said.  

Kenniston was free on bail in connection with the phony stops when he was re-arrested in response to the filing of a police report by an ex-girlfriend who had taken out a temporary restraining order against him.

The woman said that on April 22, 2011, Kenniston parked his Jeep near a jogging path she uses in Chula Vista and later that day made a telephone call to her.

The next day, the woman said Kenniston followed her into a supermarket parking lot and tried to speak with her. That evening, Chula Vista police went to Kenniston's Engleman Court home to arrest him, but he fled out the back door and escaped.

The next night, officers were called to the woman's home in northern Chula Vista after her 11-year-old daughter said she saw Kenniston there, jiggling a door in an attempt to get inside, according to police.

The woman, identified as Kenniston's ex-girlfriend Jessica, told 10News Kenniston pulled other drivers over while her daughter was in the car.

Officers eventually took Kenniston into custody on April 25, 2011, during a traffic stop.

Besides police impersonation and violating a restraining order, the defendant was convicted of kidnapping, false imprisonment, stalking and child cruelty.

Police said Kenniston choked his first wife unconscious, doused her with gasoline and tried to set her on fire. Prosecutors said he also choked his second wife.

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