A Denison man was arrested Monday night after he allegedly used his vehicle to impersonate a law enforcement officer and was caught carrying illegal drugs.
Sherman Police Sgt. Brett Mullen said dispatchers received a report of a possible police impersonator at 11:45 p.m. after a 9-1-1 caller grew suspicious of a car that activated flashing lights and then passed her in the 2600 block of East Lamar Street.
“The caller reported that a gray Chevy Malibu got behind them and turned on a set of red and blue flashing lights,” Mullen said. “Believing that this was possibly an unmarked patrol vehicle, the driver of the car pulled over, but the suspect’s vehicle then sped around them and left.”
Using the driver’s description, Mullen said officers located the suspicious vehicle a short time later in the 400 block of eastbound U.S. Highway 82 and pulled over the driver, Cory Allen Tutaj, 27.
“When we found the vehicle and made contact with the driver, we located a small window-mounted light bar in the vehicle,” Mullen said. “And upon further investigation, we recovered under two ounces of marijuana in the vehicle as well.”
Mullen said while Tutaj did not stop the driver who reported him and he was not dressed to look like a police officer, he was still taken into custody and charged with felony impersonation of a public servant and possession of marijuana.
“The law states that if someone gets another person to submit to their pretended authority, that’s impersonation,” Mullen said. “Everyone knows that if a police officer or a police car pulls behind you, with red or blue lights on, you’re obligated to pull over. By exercising that against this citizen, they (Tutaj) violated the law.”
The Sherman Police sergeant said any driver who has concerns about the authenticity of a stop should not speed or attempt to evade the vehicle behind them. Instead, Mullen said drivers should acknowledge the vehicle with a wave or turn on their flashers and proceed to a well-lit, well-populated area. Concerned drivers are also encouraged to dial 9-1-1 and report their location and vehicle information to dispatchers, who may be able to help determine the validity of the stop.
Mullen commended the caller and responding officers for the successful stop and arrest Monday night.
“Everything in this situation worked out as it should have,” Mullen said. “The caller did what they though was right and it was a good job on everybody’s part.”
Drew Smith is the crime and emergency reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.