LAFAYETTE — Luis Padilla is accused of pretending to be the Sunset police chief, a job he once held and one he is trying to regain in the Nov. 4 election.
Padilla, 55, was booked Monday on a charge of impersonating a peace officer.
He approached a man in a parking lot on Saturday, falsely identified himself as the chief of police, flashed a badge and then questioned the man about what he was doing in the area, according to a written summary of the incident from the Sunset Police Department.
The real police chief of Sunset, Alexcie Guillory, said he had no idea why Padilla allegedly approached the other man.
“I don’t know what his motive was,” Guillory said.
According to the account from the police department, the man in the parking lot gave police the license plate number of the man who approached him and then picked Padilla out of a photo lineup.
Padilla, one of five candidates running for police chief in November, was arrested at the police department without incident.
He was released Monday on his own recognizance.
Four calls on Tuesday to the Sunset number listed for Padilla were not answered.
Padilla was police chief of the town from 1999 to 2002, when Guillory ousted him.
Guillory, who fought off election challenges from Padilla in 2006 and 2010 but who is not running for re-election this year, dismissed any insinuation that Padilla’s arrest was political.
“I have a job to do, and I did my job,” he said.
Padilla’s arrest this week is not his first experience on the other side of the law.
While still police chief in 2000, he pleaded no contest to a false swearing charge on accusations of giving inconsistent testimony in an investigation of mishandled evidence by other officers at the department.
He received one year of probation but was not required to step down because the charge was a misdemeanor.
The charge of false personation of a police officer carries up to two years in prison, and a conviction could make him ineligible for the chief’s position.