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TV reporter charged with allegedly impersonating a peace officer

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A local television reporter is facing criminal charges for allegedly impersonating a police officer on several occasions last year.

Corey King, 27, of Roswell, and Roswell Bureau reporter for KRQE was issued a summons Wednesday on three counts of impersonating a peace officer and two counts of reckless driving, according to documents filed in Chaves County Magistrate Court.

The charges brought against King are the culmination of a months-long investigation by New Mexico State Police of instances between March and May 2020 in which King either dressed like a police officer or flashed lights on his vehicle during police pursuits.

Charges stem from one incident in which King, with lights allegedly flashing throughout his vehicle, escorted traffic during a police pursuit, and another episode in April when King, while reportedly dressed in gear typically worn by a law enforcement officer, pulled over an individual.

Two videos obtained by NMSP from May and June 2020 also obtained during a search warrant on King’s 2014 Ford Explorer, show him activating emergency lights on the vehicle and failing to yield to stop signs, traffic lights and driving at high speeds while filming police pursuits or heading to the scene of a shooting.

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KRQE in a statement posted on its website late Wednesday announcing the charges against King, states that the multimedia journalist is currently on suspension while an investigation is conducted.

NMSP authorized the investigation of King June 11, 2020, for what is described in court documents as several episodes in which King was allegedly “working in the functions of a peace officer.”

Flashing lights

King is alleged to have activated emergency flashing lights on his Ford Explorer in at least three instances, the first of which is reported to have occurred March 27, 2020, at 1:10 p.m. in the middle of a pursuit on U.S. Highway 380 in Chaves County.

Court documents state King had blue and red lights flashing inside and outside his Explorer while escorting traffic in the middle of a vehicle pursuit conducted by Chaves County Sheriff’s deputies.

Initially, King’s Explorer was mistaken for an unmarked state police unit. According to court documents, a state police officer en route to assist with the pursuit said he heard over the radio a deputy requesting “the unmarked SP unit to stop traffic.”

No unmarked police unit was taking part in the pursuit and the officer, according to court documents, later said that when he was passing the Explorer believed to be an unmarked unit, he saw King in the vehicle with lights flashing in it and a line of traffic behind him.

It was also noted in an entry in the Pecos Valley Regional Communications Center call log which stated: “Corey King in the EXPL (Explorer) behind units is trying to keep traffic way back will not be an unmarked police unit.”

Dressing as an officer

King is also accused of dressing as a police officer, according to court documents. King was issued a citation for impersonating a peace officer on April 11, 2020, but the deputy who issued it said the sheriff’s office decided not to prosecute the charge.

The incident happened at 1:52 a.m. when a man, according to court documents, said he was driving south on Grand Avenue , when a vehicle “jumped behind” him and followed him to his 2100 Barnett Drive residence.

According to court documents, a dark Ford Explorer which the man said resembled “a police patrol car” parked behind him and blocked him from leaving the driveway.

The man responded by twice asking, “Can I help you?” The man, according to court documents, said flashing orange and white lights were activated on the SUV.

He said, according to court documents, a man — later identified as King — emerged from the SUV wearing a brown tactical vest, badge, firearm on his hip, a radio and a camera.

Believing he was about to be arrested, the man said he instructed his wife and children who were with him at the time to go into the house. The man then said he thought King was a law enforcement officer, he took off his hat, watch, rings and handed King his driver’s license.

According to the man, King then took the man’s ID and told him to hold on and that he was on the phone with the sheriff’s office.

When the man who was pulled over found out King was not a law enforcement officer, he was asked by a deputy if he wanted to press charges, to which he said that he did.

The man also told deputies he believed King was a “sheriff’s officer” and that is the only reason that he gave him his ID.

When later interviewed by NMSP about the April 11, 2020 incident, court documents state King said he followed the vehicle to the man’s house because he believed it was being driven by a drunk driver and that he called a deputy’s personal cellphone to report it.

King said the uniform and equipment he was wearing was from his job as a security guard and that at the time he had just gotten off work. He also admitted to having turned on the flashing lights on his Explorer because he was scared.

Video footage

Video of two other instances were also later obtained by police when they executed a search warrant on the Explorer.

In a 19-second video dated May 5, 2020, and shot with an iPhone, King is reportedly shown driving with lights and a siren on while apparently traveling west on Brasher Road and failing to yield for a stop sign. A caption “EnRoute to shooting” is also shown in the middle of the video.

King was also shown in another video, dated June 4, 2020, lasting three minutes and 22 seconds and shot with a GoPro camera mounted on his dashboard driving his Explorer during another law enforcement pursuit.

In the video, court documents state, King ran seven stop signs and one red traffic light. Toward the end of the footage, he is also shown driving behind an unmarked Roswell police unit so he can pass other vehicles on the roadway.

When questioned about the June 4 footage, court documents state King said he tried to maintain a close enough distance to cover the story but be at a distance far enough away to be safe.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301 or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.