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Boynton Beach man accused of impersonating cop, beating woman

Posted at 4:46 PM, Aug 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 21:22:07-04

A Boynton Beach woman recorded on her cellphone the moment she says a man claiming to be a cop stopped her and beat her up.

Marc Vanburen stepped out in front of the woman’s vehicle Monday evening while she was driving near the 700 block of NE 7th St., according to a police report.

Vanburen told her he’s a sheriff and to not speed in the neighborhood, the report states.

The woman told officers she yelled at Vanburen to get away from her car so she could drive away.

When he didn’t move, she says she starting filming the incident on her cellphone. That’s when Vanburen tried to take away her phone, officers say.

The woman says she tried defending herself as Vanburen was hitting on her head.

In the video, a man police identify as Vanburen is heard yelling “you’re hitting a cop” several times.

The woman says Vanburen kicked her driver-side door as she drove away. Police estimated the damage at $1,000.

An officer went back to the area where the woman said she was attacked and asked people if they knew the man in the video, the report states. One person pointed to an apartment and Vanburen answered the door, the officer wrote.

Vanburen told the officer the woman tried to run him over and he went to talk to her when she hit him.

He said he told her he is a sheriff to get her to stop her car, according to police. The officer reported that Vanburen is not a sworn officer, nor is he associated with any law enforcement agency.

Police arrested Vanburen and say the woman identified him in a photo lineup.

The Contact 5 investigators uncovered information that this violence is not the first time fake cop suspect Marc Van Buren has faced assault charges.

In 2010 he was convicted of domestic battery and resisting an officer and served time on probation. Now he's back in jail, thanks to a cell phone video.

Van Buren remains in the county jail, charged with impersonating an officer, battery and resisting arrest.

Vanburen is charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer, criminal mischief, resisting without violence, burglary, and battery.

Records show at least eight people have been arrested for impersonating a law enforcement officer in Palm Beach County since 2014.

Vanburen is being held at the Palm Beach County Jail on $35,000 bond.

What to do if you're pulled over

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Marc Vanburen didn't earn any praise from those he was pretending to be.

“Under no circumstances should you listen to the directions of someone who is out of uniform, not wearing a belt badge and just flagging you over. We would not do that, is extremely dangerous,” Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said.

We asked Snyder how a traffic stop should go.

First listen for the siren. And then look for the lights. In Martin County, marked or unmarked, each unit will have a light kit, red or blue.

It's illegal for non-law enforcement to have it.

“Then ask yourself this question: do you know you did something wrong?” Snyder says.

If it doesn't all add up, call 911.

“Tell the dispatcher, 'I'm north on 95. I see a single blue light or single red light. I haven't done anything wrong. Is that one of your cars? And we know where our people are,” Snyder says.  He adds to not get off the highway until you know you’re safe.

When law enforcement is approaching your car, in or out of uniform, look for their badge and handgun.

A traffic stop generally starts like this:

“Sir good afternoon, I’m Martin County Sheriff William Snyder,” he says, demonstrating for us.  Listen for he or she to identify themselves in a calm demeanor.

Not like how Vanburen did it.

And if you're still not sure, here's what to ask for.

“They're going to have an official identification card and if you ask them, they should display it to you,” Snyder said, showing it to us.

According to police, Vanburen wanted the driver to slow down.

This applies to both of them.

“My advice, I would say this to my loved ones. Do not stop. Pick up your phone and call 911,” he said.