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Lesson: Dont take law into own hands

Gresham man faces multiple accusations after road-rage incident
by: Contributed photo Darren Dean Goff

What began as a man reportedly getting mad about being cut off by a motorist ended with the man in the back of a cop car.

Darren Dean Goff, 29, of Gresham is being held on $511,500 bail at the Multnomah County Detention Center on allegations of impersonating a police officer, kidnapping, robbery, menacing, coercion and disorderly conduct.

'The victim thought he was a cop,' said Officer John Rasmussen, Gresham police spokesman, adding that the victim heard emergency dispatchers over the suspect's police radio.

The suspect reportedly indicated that he wanted to teach the other motorist a lesson for cutting him off, Rasmussen said.

'This was just a series of very poor and criminal decisions,' he said. '(He) crossed the line.'

Police do not suspect Goff has pulled over any other motorists.

'We believe this is an isolated incident,' Rasmussen said. 'It's very rare that we see someone pretend to be a police officer.'

Goff reportedly followed the 19-year-old Damascus man in his car, forcing him to stop and get out of the car, frisked him and took the man's wallet, Rasmussen said.

It began shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday, June 5, as the young man from Damascus was leaving a hookah lounge at Southeast 183rd Avenue and Stark Street, Rasmussen said.

The victim noticed a silver Chrysler sedan following him, so he turned southbound through a residential area, hoping to shake the other driver. Instead, the driver followed him, Rasmussen said.

At 1:52 a.m. Gresham police responded to a report of two men fighting, one possibly armed with a gun, who was threatening to shoot the other man with a Taser.

When officers arrived, they found Goff walking toward his sedan. The other man was holding the roof rack of his sport utility vehicle with his arms and legs spread out in the classic police pat-down position, Rasmussen said.

The man told police that Goff followed him while rapidly flashing his headlights, passed his car and slammed on the brakes, forcing him to stop at Southeast 181st Avenue and Stephens Street. Then Goff reportedly jumped out of his car and ordered the Damascus man to show him his hands. Goff reportedly ordered the man out of his vehicle, frisked him and took his wallet.

All the while, Goff allegedly claimed he was a police officer. He threatened to shoot the victim with a Taser if the motorist didn't comply with his orders and even pretended to call for backup on what appeared to be a police radio, Rasmussen said.

Police questioned the suspect. He had no weapons, but did have the victim's wallet and the police radio, which really was a cellular phone equipped with a police scanner app.

So what are motorists to do if they suspect the officer behind them is less than legitimate? First off, don't speed like you are trying to get away, Rasmussen cautioned.

'If there's ever a concern, go to a well-lit area,' he said.

Motorists also can call 9-1-1, with a hands-free device, to confirm that they are in fact being pulled over by an actual law enforcement official. Officers typically notify dispatchers before initiating a traffic stop, Rasmussen said, so dispatch can let you know if you need to pull over.