A man accused of impersonating an officer and making traffic stops in Chula Vista was in court Wednesday for an unrelated case. However, his defense lawyer talked to reporters outside court about his pending charges and claims the defendant was doing his job and not pretending to be a cop.
Kevin Alan Kenniston, 41, was arrested Monday for allegedly impersonating an officer. He was released Tuesday on $100,000 bond.
On Wednesday, Kenniston pleaded not guilty to an unrelated domestic violence case. He’s due back in court on April 12 to face two felony counts of false imprisonment, two misdemeanor counts of impersonating a peace officer and one count of felony child endangerment.
“He’s going to contest them. There are various allegations and he’ll be acquitted at trial,” said his defense attorney Marc Carlos outside the courtroom on Wednesday.
Carlos says Kenniston owns a funeral escort business.
“They are the ones you see out on the highways to drive cars that look like police vehicles,” said Carlos. “That’s the idea… you want the citizens to think that they are, not think that are, but at least see that they’re some kind of authority and slow down because it’s a funeral procession.”
Kenniston is accused of conducting three traffic stops while driving a Ford Crown Victoria equipped with emergency lights and a siren, police said.
In one of the cases, police say Kenniston confronted a woman about ‘running a red light and almost running into him,’ said Capt. Gary Ficacci. He allegedly drove off when a uniformed patrol unit pulled into the area, according to police.
The driver told police she thought Kenniston was a real police officer.
On two other occasions, police say Kenniston conducted traffic stops while dropping his girlfriend's daughter off at a Chula Vista elementary school.
“He used his emergency lights and PA system to confront another female who was parked near an alleged red/yellow zone,” said Capt. Ficacci. “When the female ignored him, he blocked her car and demanded her license, registration, and insurance.”
On another occasion, the girl was still in the car, police said.
“Having contact with somebody and pulling people over is a different story. I mean, if a car is stopped and you’re talking to somebody and it’s stopped on their own, that’s not pulling them over,” said Carlos.
The defense lawyer claims Kenniston has done his due diligence and all of his vehicles are licensed.
“He has done everything that he can to comply with all codes, municipal codes and state codes to get this business up and running,” said Carlos.
He claims any contact Kenniston had with individual citizens was as a citizen himself.
“He didn’t pull anybody over. He didn’t use any kind of authority to get any benefit from anybody,” said Carlos. “I think on a worse case scenario he’s asking questions and that’s about it.”
Kenniston has a long criminal history dating back to 1989. He has been in and out of prison several times for DUI, burglary and car theft, according to court documents. He was charged with at least a dozen crimes in San Diego County, including East County and South Bay and convicted of at least ten of those crimes.
“These are not related to this particular case,” said Carlos.
Kenniston is due back in court on April 12.