The video of the men making the shirtless 16-year-old boy put his hands in the air and explain where he was going appeared on YouTube, a popular site where amateurs can post and view homemade movies, prosecutors said.
The boy was walking home in Queens one night last July when a burgundy car pulled alongside him and three men, including Gazi Abura, got out and told him they were police officers, Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown said.
The men made the boy stand next to their car and told him there had been a robbery in the area and he matched the description of the suspect, Brown said.
The video shows the teen complying with all the men's requests and offering them his high school identification card.
"Are you lying to me?" a man's voice asks on the video.
"I'm not lying," the frightened boy says. "I swear to everything."
Several weeks later, the boy, apparently unaware he had been videotaped, heard from friends that the fake police stop was posted on YouTube.
An investigation led to Abura, 21, who was being held Tuesday pending arraignment on various charges, including impersonating a police officer and unlawful imprisonment, said Brown, who called the prank dangerous.
"His alleged actions not only damage the reputation of our police officers, who already perform a difficult job, but potentially could have resulted in injury to the victim or even himself," Brown said in a statement.
Abura could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted.
His lawyer, Damien Brown, downplayed the incident and the teen's decision to contact real police after the video was posted.
"After learning that it was all a joke perhaps he got embarrassed," the lawyer said.
No other arrests had been made in the case, but prosecutors said the investigation was ongoing.