By Lacey Beasley
MOBILE, Alabama (WALA) — For the first time, a witness shared what she knew about the man who allegedly impersonated a police officer last week.
One witness said for months, Rick Earl pretended to be a policeman and harassed her group of cyclists as they biked down busy roads. Many times, he’s gotten too close for comfort.
Though Earl’s lawyer had a different story.
“It happened on University, sometimes on Bit and Spur, and sometimes on Old Shell, but it happened at the same time every week, and that’s when we realized we had a bully, harassment,” said the witness, wanting to remain anonymous.
It happened Thursday when MPD responded to a complaint about a man driving recklessly while impersonating a police officer near Airport Boulevard and University. Police said Earl nearly hit a cyclist and threatened to issue citations.
This witness said she is one of about 15 who bike together in Mobile, and she’s had multiple run-ins with Earl.
“He would get on his PA system and tell us to move over or do things that would make us feel like we are doing the best we can on a road,” said witness. “As cyclists, we have a three feet law, or two abreast, and then on several occasions, he pulled over somebody.”
She said Earl was driving a black SUV with blue lights and a microphone system. She said he appeared like an officer but did not act like one.
“As a cyclist, you don’t have anywhere to go, and if you wreck, you are going under someone’s tire,” said the witness. “It’s dangerous, and we get up early in the mornings to ride for the reasons of avoiding traffic, and we’re trying to get home to our families.”
I reached out to Earl’s defense attorney Dennis Knizley, and he sent us this statement. It reads in part:
“I believe the facts will ultimately indicate nobody was ever “pulled over “; rather, an early morning group of bikers were asked not to ride in automobile traffic lanes on University Boulevard and possibly another major thoroughfare. Arresting people for driving to work and having a dispute with bicyclists regarding their use of major thoroughfares seems to be a heavy handed approach to a common concern motorists sometimes have with bicyclists. This is particularly so when it is highly questionable the conduct relating to the dispute could reasonably be considered criminal by anyone. I look forward to a hearing on the matter.”
If anyone is ever in doubt if a legitimate police officer is pulling you over, always call 911 and report it.
Mobile Police also added Earl has contacted them before, claiming to be an officer.
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