CLEVELAND - News 5 has uncovered that a speeding driver, who is currently a dean of students at Cleveland's Warner Girls Leadership Academy, impersonated a sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop.
Newburgh Heights police identified the driver as Demere Houston. He is a former Cuyahoga County Sheriff deputy. The sheriff's department confirmed his departure in July and said Houston turned in his badge.
Body and dash camera video show a Newburgh Heights officer stopping Houston on the East 55th exit ramp after he caught the 26-year-old speeding on Interstate 77 north. The incident happened Sunday, Oct. 2.
“Why do you think I pulled you over?" the officer asked. "Where do you work? Sheriff’s department?"
The Newburgh Heights police chief said it was at that moment Houston flashed a sheriff's badge to the officer.
“You’re out here doing 103 miles an hour in the rain, pretty stupid, ain’t it?" asked the officer. “I’m not laughing. It’s not funny at all. 103 miles an hour out here in the rain.”
But then the video shows the officer letting him go.
“I’m going to give your sheriff department guy a call and let him know," said the officer to Houston. "Have a nice day.”
“In cases like this, the officer used his discretion," said John Majoy, Newburgh Heights police chief when asked why Houston wasn't cited. "Some may agree with it. Some may disagree with it. But at the end of the day, it’s the officer’s discretion in doing so.”
Majoy said he supports his officer's decision but if he were in his position, he would have cited him. He also said he does not plan to pursue any charges related to impersonating a police officer.
“We could at this point but we’ve elected just to close the investigation," added Majoy. "It was a traffic stop. We’ve turned our information over to the sheriff’s department. They can handle it internally in whatever fashion they’d like.”
A spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department said deputies are only issued one badge. Law enforcement sources tell News 5 it is easy to get extra badges online or at police equipment stores.
News 5 tried to talk to Houston, but he could not be reached.