Opening statements delivered in trial of man accused of posing as police officer

Kevin Kenniston charged with impersonating officer

SAN DIEGO - Opening statements were delivered Monday in the trial of a man accused of posing as a police officer, subjecting motorists to phony stops in Chula Vista, and stalking an ex-girlfriend.

Kevin Alan Kenniston, 43, is charged with impersonating a peace officer, kidnapping, spousal battery and other crimes, according to jail records.

"He said he was a sworn officer of the law," said witness Casey Tonoian. "Blue pants, blue shirt, belt with handcuffs, gun, a badge."

Tonoian said he met Kenniston two years ago when Kenniston hired him to design logos and place them on a black and white Crown Victoria.

"He showed me pictures of a San Diego [Police Department] police car and said he wanted it to look like one of those," Tonoian said. "He didn't work for any police department. He said he ran a funeral escort service and that he had the same authority as any other police officer."

The vehicle had roof-mounted police lights, a siren and was even marked on the roof.

"I believe it was so that the helicopters could identify it," said Tonoian.

Kenniston was first arrested April 5, 2011, on suspicion of 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. The motive for the allegedly phony stops was unclear.

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

Kenniston was free on bail in connection with the allegedly phony stops when he was re-arrested three weeks later in response to the filing of a police report against the defendant by an ex-girlfriend who already had a temporary restraining order against him. She said that on April 22, 2011, Kenniston parked his Jeep near a jogging path she uses in Chula Vista and later that day allegedly made a telephone call to her.

The next day, she alleged, he 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 ex-girlfriend'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.

Officers eventually took Kenniston into custody on April 25, 2011, during a traffic stop. He has been jailed at the South Bay Detention Facility ever since in lieu of $5 million bail.

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