TAMPA — For the second time within a year in Tampa, police say a man posed as a cop and sexually battered a woman.
Police arrested Bruno Felipe Alejos, 29, on charges of impersonating a police officer, sexual battery and kidnapping.
They say that on Wednesday afternoon, Alejos saw a 19-year-old woman arguing with her boyfriend at Rome and Waters avenues and stopped to talk to them.
He told them he was an off-duty police officer and said he would give the woman a ride home, police said.
The woman's boyfriend questioned whether Alejos really was an officer. Alejos responded that he wasn't allowed to carry a badge while off duty and threatened to arrest the boyfriend if he interfered, police said.
Surveillance footage showed Alejos stopped at a Bank of America on N Florida Avenue to withdraw money, which he later told police was for rent. He then drove past the victim's home and parked in a CVS store lot at 9202 N Florida Ave.
Alejos battered the woman there, police said. The woman escaped, police said, and she hid in some bushes and called 911.
Once apprehended, Alejos changed his story several times before admitting he went too far, police said. He was being held in jail without bail.
In 2003, police arrested Alejos on charges of soliciting prostitution. That charge was dropped.
Another man faced similar charges last summer after he posed as a cop and raped a woman on Bayshore Boulevard. Luis Munuzuri-Harris was found guilty of kidnapping and sexual battery and sentenced to life in prison.
Police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said the department encourages people to "go with their gut" if they have questions about a person's law enforcement bona fides. The couple doubted Alejos at the beginning, a sign that something wasn't right.
There's nothing wrong with courteously telling an officer that you'd like to call 911 to verify your location, Davis said. Also, off-duty officers do carry a badge, and Tampa police officers also have police identification with photographs on them, Davis said.
Times news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or firstname.lastname@example.org.