Transformers ‘Decepticon’ Car Not So Deceptive, Court Rules
On Thursday, a clerk magistrate dropped a case against a 23-year-old Braintree man who was charged last month with impersonating a police officer due to the cop-like decals he used to turn his 2010 Maserati GranTurismo into a tribute to the “Decepticons” from the popular Transformers movies.
Attorney Russell Matson, the lawyer representing the driver pulled over and issued a summons to appear in court for operating a vehicle that resembled a squad car, said police were “pretty vehement” about finding his client guilty of doing something wrong.
But court officials dismissed the charges before the case moved forward and a formal criminal complaint was filed, saying that the owner wasn’t pretending to be an officer based on the badge decorations and black-and-white colors of his car.
“What’s important here is that we won the case and my client is happy,” Matson told Boston in an interview. “The magistrate said they saw the point the police were trying to make, but no crime was actually committed.”
Braintree Police stopped Matson’s client, Zhang Zhijun, on August 9, when he was driving down Washington Street near Braintree Square, because the vehicle is painted to look like “Barricade,” one of the evil Decepticon robots from the movie Transformers.
Along the sides of Zhijun’s car are the words “Decepticons: punish and enslave,” as well as “9-1-1.” The car also features the Transformers logo.
Police argued that Zhijun’s car violated Massachusetts General Law IV, Section 33, because his vehicle could be mistaken for an actual officer’s, and could be used for criminal intent.
Matson said the law states that a person must “acts as such or requires a person to aid or assist him in a matter pertaining to the duty of such an officer,” which his client didn’t do. He stated in a blog post about the charges that “dress up is not impersonation.”
“He was pulled over, and they gave him a citation and told him he would have to appear in court after the officer ultimately decided a crime had been committed and he should be charged,” Matson said.
With the charges now in his rear-view mirror, Matson said Zhijun will keep the car decorated as it is for a while longer, but plans to change it so that he doesn’t get pulled over in any other cities.
“He is planning on getting the car redecorated, because even though we won the case, you can’t guarantee that in the future some different police department won’t stop him,” he said “It’s nice to win the case, but the stress of being charged again made him say, ‘I’m just going to change it again.’”