WOOSTER, Ohio – Wayne County deputies executing a traffic stop were surprised to find the two men inside the car were both registered sex offenders, one of them dressed in a home-made police uniform complete with a duty belt including handcuffs and pepper spray.
“Certainly any time you pull somebody over and they are wearing a badge and have the word police across the front that’s going to cause additional questions on behalf of any officer conducting that stop,” said Wayne County Sheriff’s Office Captain Doug Hunter.
During questioning the driver, Erik Brubaker, 35, of Medina, first told them he was working as a security officer and was expected to be at work that afternoon.
He later recanted saying that he had been terminated from a security job.
Authorities also learned that Brubaker’s license had been suspended.
His passenger, Caleb Barnhart, 20, of Wadsworth was also carrying a metal police badge.
Barnhart was separately questioned. When deputies asked what they would find in his text messages, he confessed that Brubaker picked him up with the intention of going to Wadsworth to confront a woman who was a witness in a Medina County Rape case scheduled for trial later this month.
“It appeared that the reason he was wearing this uniform may have been to intimidate this young lady to answer his questions or perhaps to go away with him to some other location,” said Hunter.
Brubaker admitted on camera that the woman made accusations against a friend of his, Tanner Davis, 18, of Rittman and he intended to get her to confess that the accusations were false.
Davis faces one count of rape and has entered a not guilty plea in Medina County Common Pleas Court, according to court records.
Brubaker told authorities that the only place they stopped and confronted anyone while dressed as an officer was at a Burger King Restaurant, where he said an employee told him the uniform did not look real.
But investigators want to know if they had any other encounters with people in which they portrayed themselves as officers before they were stopped.
Brubaker was charged with one count of driving under suspension. Barnhart was in the Wayne County jail on a probation violation.
The case was being referred to a Wayne County Prosecutor to determine what additional charges, if any, would be filed.
“The fact that these fellows were stopped prevented them from executing their plan. We really do not know what they were going to do or what was going to happen when they arrived in Wadsworth and confronted this woman. One of the suspects stated that they were interested in taking her away. The other one downplayed that,” said Hunter.