SARASOTA, Fla. – Jymieka McDowell, 28 of Sarasota, and Ryshawnna Poole, 39 of Manatee County, have been arrested and are facing charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer and false imprisonment, both felony charges.
This is after Sarasota Police detectives believe the two women stopped a car Sunday morning pretending to be law enforcement officers. Detectives have reason to believe this has happened before and are asking any other potential victims to come forward.
Just before 1 a.m. Sunday, Sarasota Police officers responded to the 1200 block of 31st Street for a suspicious incident. The caller told officers they heard what they believed to be a Sarasota Police officer in distress.
No Sarasota Police officer in distress was found. While searching the area, Sarasota Police officers found a vehicle attempting to stop another vehicle near Cocoanut and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. The vehicle had red and blue lights in the windshield and a siren. A photo from the traffic stop that was posted online on an open source social media channel is attached.
Sarasota Police officers were able to make contact with McDowell, who was the driver, and Poole, who was a passenger. They are currently at the Sarasota County Jail on unrelated charges in addition to the charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer and false imprisonment.
The fake traffic stop was streamed live on social media. In the video, McDowell and Poole were claiming to be law enforcement officers, made threatening and derogatory statements to the driver and passengers of a vehicle they had stopped.
The victims in the vehicle that had stopped do not know McDowell or Poole.
The video shows red and blue lights flashing and a siren being used. McDowell and Poole are heard saying, “driver, exit the vehicle,” “put your ******* hands up driver,” “I need everyone to exit the ******* car,” “do not make a move,” “black lives don’t ******* matter,” and “anybody move and I will shoot.”
“This wasn’t Sarasota Police officers pulling over a car,” said Chief Bernadette DiPino. “These were people who were pretending to be law enforcement officers and putting fear into innocent victims and residents of our community. If you ever suspect if someone is pulling you over that you feel isn’t a law enforcement officer, call 911 to validate the traffic stop,” said Chief DiPino
Sarasota Police officers are asking if anyone has information on this case or were stopped by these individuals, to call the Sarasota Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 941-263-6070.