Robber posed as police, officials say

By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 8, 2011; B01

A Prince George's County police officer willingly lent his cruiser to a man who used it to impersonate an officer and take money from Hispanics during patdowns, authorities said Friday.

The officer and the man were acquaintances, but the officer might have thought the man was a sworn fellow officer who needed a cruiser while his own was being repaired, said Capt. Misty Mints, the assistant public affairs commander for the police department.

She said police have arrested the man who they think impersonated an officer, and they have placed the officer whose car was used on paid administrative leave.

The officer had not been charged with any crimes, and police were still investigating.

"It's completely outrageous and an extreme egregious act," Mints said. "I have no idea why he would allow this person to access his cruiser."

Mints identified the officer as Dato Dacilien, a five-year veteran assigned to the District 4 station. She said that, at least preliminarily, investigators do not think he knew about the robberies.

In a phone interview, Dacilien said: "This individual was very good at what he does. He was able to manipulate a lot of people, including myself as a police officer." He declined to elaborate.

Larry E. Hawkins, 27, of Temple Hills was charged with armed robbery, impersonating a police officer and other related counts, court records show.

Mints said Hawkins is a former Bladensburg police officer.

No one answered at his apartment, and no one returned a written message left there. A woman who answered the phone at his parents' home declined to comment.

Hawkins is also the brother and roommate of Prince George's police officer Brandon Hawkins, Mints said. Investigators think that Larry Hawkins might have taken his brother's uniform and worn it during at least one robbery, she said.

The two are about the same size, and cruiser camera footage recorded Larry Hawkins wearing what looks like an actual Prince George's uniform, she said.

Brandon Hawkins, who has been on the force a little more than a year and is assigned to District 3, was placed on administrative duties, Mints said.

Mints said investigators do not think he knew about the robberies, either.

Police first learned of the scheme on Christmas Eve, when two Hispanic men reported that they had been stopped in Adelphi near Riggs and Adelphi roads and patted down by someone claiming to be a police officer, Mints said. The men said the person took cash from them and then let them go, Mints said.

Those men told investigators the number of the cruiser involved in their stop, and detectives learned the name of the officer assigned to that car, Mints said.

But when investigators showed the men a photo lineup that included that officer, the men did not pick him out, she said.

Mints said internal affairs officers began conducting surveillance on the cruiser. About 5:25 a.m. Thursday, the cruiser showed up in connection with a similar incident, she said. But it was not being watched by investigators at that time, she said.

In the later incident, Mints said, a Hispanic man called police from the 2400 block of Kenilworth Avenue in the Cheverly area to report that a man wearing what looked like a Prince George's police uniform had pulled him over on suspicion of drunken driving and took $1,800 in cash during a patdown.

The man told investigators that when he objected, the person who pulled him over backed away and put his hand on a gun he was carrying.

Again, Mints said, investigators showed the victim a lineup that included a photo of the officer to whom the cruiser was assigned. Again, she said, the victim did not identify that officer.

Meanwhile, internal affairs investigators located the vehicle and saw someone who is not a police officer get into it, Mints said. That man was Larry Hawkins, she said.

Mints said the victim of the most recent robbery picked Hawkins out of a photo lineup. Police later seized a handgun and $1,537 in cash from Hawkins's home.

Mints said it is possible that there are other victims of the scheme, and she asked anyone with information to call Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS.

Staff researcher Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

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