WARNER ROBINS — A nurse on her way to work at the Houston County jail in Perry was pulled over Wednesday morning on Interstate 75 by a man impersonating a law enforcement officer, police said.
Houston County sheriff’s Capt. Robert Clark said police are actively investigating the incident near Exit 127, which is in the far south end of the county near Dooly County. The exit connects the interstate with Ga. 26.
The incident marks the third case in recent months in which someone has pretended to be a police officer in Houston County. Arrests were made in both of the earlier cases.
Tiffany Sumler, 29, a contracted nurse at the jail who lives in Cordele, said she was pulled over in the north lane by man in a black sport utility vehicle with blue lights mounted on the vehicle, according to the Houston County sheriff’s incident report.
Initially, Sumler thought the vehicle was going to go around her and she pulled over but then it stopped behind her, the report said.
A white male in his 30s or 40s with short brown hair got out of the car and shined a flashlight into her eyes, the report said. He also had a clipboard.
According to the report, the man asked: “‘Where are you coming from?’ She told him Cordele. Then he asked, ‘Where are you going?’ She told him work. He said that her red Pontiac matched the description of a BOLO (be-on-the-lookout) and that was the reason he stopped her,” the report said.
Sumler said the man was wearing khaki pants, a white dress shirt and a tie, the report said. He had handcuffs on the left side of his belt but no gun.
When he asked to see her driver’s license, she asked to see his badge, the report indicated that the man replied, “That would be a security risk.”
She told him she worked at the county jail, that everyone knew her and that they could vouch for her identity if he would follow her to the jail, the report said.
The man told her “I can’t do that” and then told her she was free to go, according to the report.
As she drove away, she got a look at his vehicle, which she said was either a black GMC Yukon or a Suburban with dark tinted windows, the report said.
In a telephone interview, Sumler said she never was able to get a good look at his face because of the flashlight he kept shining in her eyes. She said it was still dark when he pulled her over about 4:45 a.m., and there was no other traffic on the road when she was stopped.
Sumler, who was not harmed in the incident, told the sheriff’s deputy that the man reminded her of a probation officer.
Sumler said she’s “learned her lesson” that if someone tries to pull her over in an unmarked vehicle she’s to call 911 on her cell phone to see if the person is a legitimate officer. She also said she now knows never to pull over for an unmarked vehicle in a dark place but to travel to a well-lighted public area.
Clark noted that any legitimate police officer would be in contact with 911 when pulling a motorist over and 911 would be able to verify that, Clark said. He also suggested calling 911 to verify a traffic stop by an unmarked vehicle.
In April, the sheriff’s office investigated reports of a man impersonating a law enforcement officer who was accused of stopping motorists in Houston County.
Borris G. Escoto-Salinas, 24, of Macon, was accused of pulling over a woman April 6 in an unmarked, bright-silver Crown Victoria after activating a red flashing light, police said. He also was accused of stopping another motorist the first week of March. Escoto-Salinas was being held Thursday in the Houston County jail.
This month, Cecil L. Young Jr., 51, of Warner Robins, was charged with impersonating a police officer. He is accused of identifying himself as a police officer and presenting a fake badge to the owner of a snack food vending truck May 5 in the parking lot of Five Star Ford at 900 Russell Parkway. He is free on a $1,500 bond.
Anyone with any information about Wednesday’s incident is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at (478) 542-2085.