FALLBROOK, Calif. (KGTV) — A 21-year-old man was arrested for impersonating a deputy in North County early Monday morning.
According to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the incident began Monday around 2 a.m. when a deputy with the Fallbrook Sheriff’s Substation drove by “what appeared to be a traffic stop” near South Mission and Winter Haven Roads.
“The silver car had emergency strobe lights in the front and back,” the department said. “The deputy also saw a man wearing a black shirt with San Diego County Sheriff's Department patches, a gun belt with a gun in the holster.”
When the deputy turned around to assist what he thought was a plainclothes deputy, the suspect, identified as Michael Carmichael, 21, ran into his car and drove away, the department said.
The deputy tried to pull Carmichael over, but the driver kept going, eventually turning off his lights and making it “too dangerous for the deputy to follow the suspect.”
While checking the area, the deputy discovered a crash. “Responding deputies pulled the suspect out of the car and quickly extinguished a small brush fire sparked by the crash,” the department said.
Carmichael was treated at a hospital before being booked into the Vista Detention Facility for impersonating a peace officer, felony evading, possession of a baton and brass knuckles, and false imprisonment.
The woman initially pulled over by Carmichael was uninjured and an acquaintance riding with the suspect was determined to have no involvement.
After serving a search warrant at Carmichael’s home, authorities found additional items they say could be used to impersonate a deputy, police officer, or security guard.
The department also released advice for anyone pulled over by an unmarked vehicle:
If you have concerns about being pulled over by an unmarked vehicle, turn on your emergency flashing lights so the deputy can see you acknowledge them. Call 9-1-1 or the Sheriff's non-emergency line at (858) 565-5200 to verify the Sheriff's Department has an unmarked unit in the area and the person conducting the traffic stop is indeed a Sheriff's Department Deputy. You also have the right to ask a deputy for identification such as a photo I.D., badge and business card. Pull over into well-lit and busy area for other people to witness the interaction or traffic stop.