A 20-year-old Oakland man who was charged previously with impersonating a police officer has been arrested again on suspicion of pretending to be a cop in both Berkeley and San Leandro, authorities announced Tuesday.
The San Leandro Police Department described Sergio Taylor, during a press event Tuesday, as “a repeat offender for impersonating a law enforcement officer” who is believed to have pretended to be a cop in multiple cities around the Bay Area. San Leandro police arrested Taylor on Saturday after recognizing him from a Berkeley police flier showing him to be wanted on an arrest warrant from May.
Berkeley detectives had been looking for Taylor since the weekend of May 12 when a large fight erupted at Kip’s Bar and Grill, according to BPD. The fight, which involved more than 50 people, broke out at the bar, at 2439 Durant Ave., at about 1:30 a.m.
BPD said Taylor — who does not work at Kip’s — was wearing a “police-type uniform” marked “K9 Unit” that night. The uniform “included a badge, tactical ballistic carrier, Taser, holster and a firearm,” BPD said. When police later reviewed surveillance footage of the fight, they saw Taylor holding up a handgun at people inside the bar in what appeared to be part of the effort to clear the area, according to BPD.
When BPD looked into the matter further, they learned that Taylor had been prohibited from having a Taser or firearm because of his criminal history. Last month, BPD obtained a warrant for Taylor’s arrest and alerted other agencies to the warrant as well. Saturday morning, police in San Leandro recognized him during the annual Cherry Festival, which draws about 20,000 people to the East Bay city each year.
When San Leandro police officers spotted Taylor at about 10 a.m., he was wearing the same uniform he had worn in Berkeley, said SLPD Lt. Robert McManus. Police took Taylor into custody, and video of the arrest circulated on social media due to public interest in what appeared to be police arresting a fellow law enforcement officer and his police dog. But it turned out to be a different scenario altogether.
The officer first noticed Taylor when Taylor opened a gate into a cordoned-off area at the festival so SLPD officers could drive through it, McManus said. Taylor was “dressed like a police officer” and had what appeared to be a Glock pistol in his holster: “The officer recognized him but couldn’t place him.” The officer then looked up the BPD wanted flier and returned to the gate to make the arrest.
But Taylor was gone. He and an associate were next seen, McManus said, trying to drive away from the festival in a black 2013 Ford Taurus “with security markings on it that resembled [a] police car.” Police stopped Taylor and took him, and his German Shepherd, into custody.
“This was a dangerous situation, as Taylor looked like a police officer, yet he is not, and he was carrying a Taser, replica firearm and live ammunition, which he is prohibited from possessing,” said McManus in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, most people would not be able to tell the difference between this impersonator and a real police officer.”
Taylor had no weapon on him at the time of his arrest, said SLPD, but police found a gun under the driver’s seat when they searched the car. (Taylor had been sitting in the passenger seat when police stopped the vehicle.) SLPD ultimately determined that the firearm was actually a training pistol that had been altered so it could not shoot. The altered pistol was still able to hold real ammunition, however. McManus said SLPD found live ammunition in the gun and also on Taylor’s person during a search.
Taylor is not a police officer or an applicant to be a police officer, McManus said Tuesday, “nor has he ever been.”
But his social media accounts show a deep interest in law enforcement — or at least in appearing to be a police officer. Taylor’s Instagram account features multiple photographs of him in uniform using police-related hashtags such as #bluelivesmatter and #k9unit. Some of his photographs include a German Shepherd identified as “Axel the Narcotics K9.” He appears to have at least three Instagram accounts, one of which has the profile name “sgt_taylor13.”
In some of his photos, Taylor’s badge clearly reads “All About Security,” which is also the business website listed on his Instagram page. San Leandro police said Taylor is employed by the Oakland-based company All About Private Security, but that he does not appear to have been licensed by the state, as required, to work as a security guard.
According to Alameda County court records online, Taylor was charged in January 2018 with impersonating a police officer and writing a check without sufficient funds to cover it, which are misdemeanors, as well as the felony charges of grand theft, vehicle theft and receiving stolen property.
SLPD said, in that case, Taylor allegedly impersonated a uniformed, federal law enforcement officer and wrote a $10,000 fraudulent check to buy a motorcycle in San Leandro. When he went to make the buy, he “reportedly wore a similar police-style uniform, and activated emergency lights and a siren in his unmarked vehicle as he left the parking lot” to add to the illusion of his law enforcement persona. “Detectives later executed a search warrant at Taylor’s Oakland home, recovering the stolen motorcycle, police equipment and other evidence, substantiating Taylor’s criminal activity,” according to SLPD.
Most of those charges were dismissed last year, however, when Taylor entered a no contest plea to the insufficent funds charge, according to court records online. In September, he was sentenced to probation through September 2021.
That same month, in Oakland, Taylor was charged with carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle and receiving stolen property, according to court records. In March, he entered a no contest plea to the charge of carrying a loaded firearm. Taylor’s probation was extended through March 2022 and he was sentenced to a weekend jail program that was scheduled to begin Sunday by 6 p.m., according to court records online.
Police did not share details Tuesday about that case. But they said authorities are looking into a number of impersonation reports in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
Since Taylor’s 2018 conviction, McManus said during Tuesday’s press event, “there have been reports throughout cities in the San Francisco Bay Area in which a person believed to be Mr. Taylor has been identified as impersonating a police officer on several different occasions. Many of those cities have open investigations at this time.”
Taylor is being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, according to booking records online. According to SLPD, he has been charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office with impersonating a police officer, firearms violations and violating the terms and conditions of his probation.
Taylor is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday at the East County Hall of Justice, which is also in Dublin.
Saturday morning, police in San Leandro also arrested Taylor’s colleague, identified as 39-year-old John Payne of Oakland, on suspicion of lying to police and impeding their investigation. Payne, identified by police as the getaway car driver Saturday, initially told police Taylor had no gun and that he hadn’t seen one. But, when officers discovered the altered Glock under his seat, he admitted he had been hiding it, according to SLPD.
McManus said the district attorney’s office is set to review the evidence against Payne on Wednesday. He is no longer in custody, according to court records online.
McManus said Taylor and Payne were both wearing security uniforms Saturday but had not been hired by SLPD or the city of San Leandro to work at the Cherry Festival. Police are working to determine whether the pair could have been there in some other official capacity. But there’s no evidence as of yet to indicate that.
“They may have just shown up by themselves,” McManus said. “In Berkeley’s case, that’s kind of what Taylor did.”
Taylor’s German Shepherd was returned to Taylor’s family at his request, according to SLPD.
Law enforcement agencies throughout the Bay Area are working together to determine whether Taylor and Payne have been linked to other crimes, especially those involving the impersonation of a police officer, SLPD said Tuesday.
Authorities ask anyone with information about either man to call SLPD at 510-577-2740.