A man is in custody on suspicion of impersonating a Sheriff’s deputy and pulling over nearly a dozen drivers in northern San Diego County over the last 10 months.
Micheal Carmicheal, 21, conducted fake traffic stops in the unincorporated areas of Bonsall, Fallbrook, and the City of Oceanside since August of last year. Authorities arrested Carmicheal on June 13, after a deputy with the Fallbrook Sheriff’s Substation drove by what appeared to be a traffic stop shortly before 2 a.m. at the intersection of South Mission and Winter Haven Roads in Fallbrook.
The department reported that Carmicheal wore tactical pants, a black polo shirt with San Diego County Sheriff's Department patches on the sleeves, and a vest with the yellow and gold SHERIFF patch on the front and back. Authorities reported the suspect drove a 2009 Silver Toyota Camry with flashing red and blue emergency lights during these stops.
According to a press release, the deputy turned around to assist what he thought was a plainclothes deputy, but the man ran into his car and dove away. The suspect leads the deputy on a chase. At some point, the suspect had turned off all the lights making it too dangerous for the deputy to follow the suspect.
Upon returning to the area, the deputy found the suspect and an acquaintance at a crash scene.
Responding deputies pulled the suspect and a female acquaintance from the car and extinguished a small brush fire sparked by the crash.
Carmichael received treatment at a hospital and then booked into Vista Detention Facility on charges of impersonating a peace officer, felony evading, possessing a baton and brass knuckles, and false imprisonment.The female passenger sustained minor aches and pains from the crash.
Authorities later determined that the woman was not involved in Carmicheal’s impersonation. The woman pulled over by Carmicheal was unharmed.
Authorities obtained a search warrant on June 13 at Carmicheal’s Oceanside home and found additional items which could be used impersonate a Sheriff's deputy, police officer, or security guard. The department noted that all guns seized from Carmicheal’s home are replicas.
The Sheriff’s Department said those who are concerned about being pulled over by an unmarked vehicle should turn on vehicle emergency 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 that the person conducting the traffic stop is indeed a Sheriff's Department Deputy.
Commuters have the right to ask a deputy for identification such as a photo I.D., badge, and business card. Pull over into a well-lit and busy area for other people to witness the interaction or traffic stop.
Anyone who might have been a victim or anyone who may have information on Carmichael's impersonation is asked to call the Sheriff's non-emergency line at (858) 565-5200. You can remain anonymous by calling the Crime Stoppers tip line at (888) 580-8477.