WESTPORT, Conn. -- A clergyman with a criminal history tried to convince police that he was a New York City detective when he was stopped in Westport after driving up the highway with emergency lights flashing, according to police.
State police received numerous 911 calls at around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday of an SUV driving up I-95 north with its emergency lights activated. The calls first reported seeing the SUV near exit 3 in Greenwich. Police were able to get a visual on the SUV, which has New York plates and had both front and rear emergency lights activated, police said.
The SUV was traveling on and off the center median, passing traffic, tailgating other vehicles, splitting the lanes and cutting from side to side on the highway, according to police. It passed by two state troopers who were responding to an accident before it was eventually pulled over near exit 17 in Westport.
Police said the car was not a government vehicle, but was registered to a private person and its registration was expired. The driver, 47-year-old Popeye Whittingham of Harlem, led troopers to believe he was a New York City police officer and showed a detective badge, according to police. Further investigation revealed that he has no police powers and is a volunteer bishop with the 32nd Precinct, police said.
It was also discovered that Whittingham has an arrest history for criminal attempt to commit murder and a weapons violation out of New York, police said. He also has numerous aliases, according to police.
Whittingham was charged with impersonating a police officer, operating an unregistered motor vehicle, reckless driving, and use of unauthorized colored or white lights. He posted a $2,500 bond and will appear in court May 3.