Vigilante's actions may be making officers' job harder

TACOMA, Wash. — A Pierce County vigilante says he was exposing a sexual predator when he was hit by a car.

The entire incident was captured on camera and posted to YouTube.

The man, who posts videos for "Criminally Exposed," set up his own sting operation by pretending to be a 14-year-old girl, according to Tacoma Police.

They say he made arrangements to meet a 25-year-old man at McKinley Park in Tacoma on April 29.

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In the video, the man repeatedly tells the driver to stop.

"I'm not a cop, I'm not here to hurt you," he starts out by saying in the video.

The driver does not stop and hits the man, who fell to the ground. When he returned to McKinley Park to apologize, the on-camera confrontation began.

"What are you sorry for, hitting me or showing up to [expletive] a 14-year-old girl?" he asks the driver in the video.

The 25-year-old man never denies why he came to the park. However, Loretta Cool with Tacoma Police says officers’ hands are now tied when it comes to the case.

"Maybe we could have charged him with something, had the investigation been done appropriately," she explained.

Luring and exposing someone under false pretense without involving law enforcement makes it nearly impossible for police to make an arrest, according to Cool.

"What he is calling evidence, we can't use in court," she says, "What he's doing is borderline illegal."

The driver was charged on June 26 with assault in the second degree for hitting the man who confronted him. He is not facing charges related to the meetup.

As vigilante groups rise to popularity in Pierce County, the Tacoma Police Department is strongly advocating against actions similar to this.

"This man has put himself in danger, and he's putting other people at risk around him," Cool said.

The man who runs Criminally Exposed asked KIRO 7 not to release his identity. He said his intention is to help law enforcement officials and provide evidence for prosecution.

Cool says ambushing possible suspects before they commit a crime will not result in an arrest.

"His choice is not to involve the police, so you tell me how this is helping society in any way," she says, "He's not doing it to get the person arrested. He's doing it to confront and shame them."

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