Utah Jazz center Olden Polynice has been charged with impersonating a police officer and disorderly conduct stemming from a traffic dispute last month at Salt Lake City.
West Valley prosecutor John Huber said Friday that Polynice chased another motorist Oct. 28. Polynice told authorities he had been cut off in traffic.
The player, who police say flashed a badge at the motorist, refused comment as he left the Delta Center after Friday morning’s shoot-around.
But Jazz President Dennis Haslam defended Polynice.
“Polynice’s version of the incident affirms that he did nothing wrong and he is confident that this will be resolved shortly.
“I don’t see this as a big deal. Frankly, I look at Olden as probably a victim. That we are to think he tried to impersonate himself as a police officer is pretty silly.”
Haslam explained the badge-flashing allegation by saying, “Olden identified himself as a member of the Utah Jazz, and pulled out his wallet, as I understand it, to say ‘I’m Olden Polynice of the Jazz.’ ”
Huber said Polynice flashed a badge at the other motorist more than once.
The badge is an honorary police badge from the Los Angeles Police Department.
Huber said Polynice followed a West Valley City couple to their home, then argued when both sides got out of their vehicles. Huber said the couple didn’t recognize the 7-foot Polynice as a Jazz player.
Police arrived after Polynice drove away. The couple wrote down Polynice’s license plate and investigators tracked him down that evening.
This week, the city attorney’s office charged Polynice with one count of impersonating a police officer and one count of disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors.
If Polynice is convicted, he could be sentenced up to nine months in jail and more than $2,000 in fines.