Deputy impersonator made at least 10 bogus traffic stops, police say

A local man used sheriff's department patches, a utility belt and several fake firearms for his ruse


By Alex Riggins
The San Diego Union-Tribune

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A man arrested Monday after he allegedly pulled over a driver while impersonating a San Diego County sheriff's deputy is suspected of making at least 10 other bogus traffic stops since last summer on North County roadways, investigators said Tuesday.

Detectives from the Sheriff's Department's Fallbrook substation are now asking possible victims of the suspected impersonator to come forward.

Detectives arrested Michael Anthony Carmichael, 21, shortly after a real deputy happened upon his fake traffic stop early Monday in Fallbrook, sheriff's officials said.

Carmichael fled when the deputy arrived, initially eluding capture, sheriff's Detective Lester Garman said Monday. Deputies arrested Carmichael when he crashed his car a short time later.

Investigators said Carmichael, an Oceanside resident, was dressed in a black polo shirt with county Sheriff's Department patches, a ballistic vest with large "sheriff" patches across the front and back, a utility belt with several weapons and a fake firearm. Items found on Carmichael or at his home included two replica firearms, brass knuckles, a baton, a fake badge that read "special police" and several other patches that said "security" and "SWAT."

On Tuesday, sheriff's officials said Carmichael conducted at least 10 other fake traffic stops since August in Bonsall, Fallbrook and Oceanside. They said that during the stops, he was driving a 2009 silver Toyota Camry outfitted with blue and red strobe lights across the top of the windshield.

Carmichael remained held Tuesday at the Vista Detention Facility in lieu of $270,000 bail. Jail records showed he was booked on suspicion of eight felonies and three misdemeanors, including charges of impersonating a peace officer and false imprisonment.

This is at least the second time in four years that North County men have been caught allegedly impersonating deputies. A 24-year-old Vista man was arrested in June 2018 on suspicion that he was claiming to be a deputy and had confiscated skateboards from two juveniles. Authorities said he also had clothing in his home that looked like deputies' uniforms.

Anyone who believes they may have been the victim of the latest deputy impersonator, or anyone with more information about Carmichael's actions, was asked to call the Sheriff's Department's non-emergency line at (858) 565-5200. Tipsters can also call San Diego County Crime Stoppers' anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

©2022 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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