A Lakewood man who allegedly forced a speeding driver off the road and held him at gunpoint appeared in court Thursday.
Michael Landen Jr., 38, pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault and first-degree criminal impersonation.
He was being held in lieu of $250,000 bail after King County prosecutors described his behavior as “dangerous” and “threatening.”
Landen was arrested Feb. 20 after a plainclothes detective said he saw him aggressively trying to pull over a Lexus sedan on Interstate 5 in Seattle.
Never miss a local story.
According to charging papers:
Landen was in a Ford Crown Victoria, which many law enforcement agencies use, and was driving about 70 miles per hour when the detective spotted him.
At first, the detective assumed Landen was an officer until he realized the Crown Victoria did not have exempt license plates as a law enforcement vehicle would.
Landen drove so closely to the sedan that his car practically touched the sedan’s bumper, and then swerved at the other car, forcing the Lexus driver to swerve out of his lane.
Eventually the Lexus driver exited the freeway and pulled over.
“The defendant told the sedan’s driver that he was a cop and then pointed a loaded handgun at the victim’s face,” according to the charging papers.
The detective who saw the episode pulled over and arrested Landen, who said he turned on his car’s flashing lights to get the other driver to slow down.
He denied pointing a gun at the other driver or even seeing the car again once he got off I-5.
In Landen’s car were a loaded handgun, body armor, jacket with a shoulder patch resembling the ones worn by Tukwila police officers, two gun magazines and a gun belt with a knife, Taser, handcuffs and flashlight, police said.
Investigators said Landen apparently ran a Lakewood security company called POIICE, which they noted some could read as POLICE.
The company’s website said POIICE stands for Professional Officers Involved in Community Enhancement.
Records show Landen was forced to leave the U.S. Air Force after being involuntarily committed and a former captain told investigators he had concerns about Landen impersonating law enforcement when he was in the military.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653