TEMECULA – A Hemet resident was arrested Tuesday, March 14, after he allegedly attempted to pull over another motorist using law enforcement-style flashing lights and a siren. What the man did not realize was that the person he was trying to pull over was an off-duty Riverside County sheriff’s deputy.
The deputy was traveling in the area of Winchester and Murrieta Hot Springs Roads when the alleged incident occurred.
While investigating the attempted traffic stop, deputies tracked down and arrested Johnnie Issa Sellers, 21, of Hemet, Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Jon Wade explained the day after the incident and arrest.
Sellers, who attended Allesandro High School in Hemet and whose real job is working as a plumber’s apprentice for a San Diego based company, was later booked into the Southwest Detention Center on suspicion of one misdemeanor count of impersonating a police officer.
The investigation began about 12:30 p.m., when the deputy, who has not been identified, called Riverside County emergency dispatchers to report that Sellers had just tried to pull the official over.
Wade did not specify if the deputy involved in the incident was male or female or how long they had worked for the department.
“The deputy reported that the driver of the Dodge Dart had activated two flashing lights in the upper windshield area of the vehicle with an audible police style siren,” Wade said. “The deputy was suspicious of the vehicle and did not pull over.”
The deputy was driving their personally owned vehicle when Sellers attempted to conduct the traffic stop, according to Wade.
After the deputy did not yield to the flashing lights and siren, the driver of the Dodge Dart passed the deputy and continued eastbound on Winchester Road toward Hemet.
As Sellers passed the off-duty deputy, the victim was able to use their cellular phone to take a picture of the vehicle’s license plate number, which they later provided to investigating deputies.
Officials from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Southwest station conducted an investigation into the attempted traffic stop and Seller’s alleged impersonation of a police officer.
Using the photograph obtained by the victim, authorities determined the Dodge was registered to Sellers.
As their investigation continued, authorities located Sellers and the involved vehicle in the area of South Gilbert Street and West Johnston Avenue in Hemet.
While inspecting Sellers’ vehicle, “deputies located LED light strips in the upper windshield area and a public address system installed on the vehicle,” according to Wade.
Based on their investigation deputies arrested Sellers.
An online jail records search revealed that after Sellers was booked into jail, he was issued a citation and released within hours of his arrest. He is scheduled to be arraigned at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta May 5.
Officials did not specify if they were investigating Sellers for any other unlawful traffic stops he might have attempted or succeeded in conducting.
When contacted, Sellers refused to discuss his arrest or comment about the incident.
Anyone with information related to this case, or who believes they or someone they know may have been victimized by Sellers should immediately contact Sergeant J. Wade at the Southwest Sheriff’s station at (951) 696-3000. Callers can refer to incident file number SW170740026 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.