Fake Deputy in Fallbrook Arrested With Plastic Badge After Hoax Traffic Stop, Fiery Crash: SD Sheriff's Dept.

Investigators said it was the Oceanside man's second arrest for impersonating an officer in two years

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For the second time in as many years, an Oceanside man is behind bars, accused of impersonating a peace officer, and this time, he faces a raft of other charges as well.

According to investigators with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, 21-year-old Michael Carmichael was spotted performing a traffic stop on a woman just before 2 a.m. on Monday in Fallbrook, allegedly employing emergency strobe lights in the ruse. They said that what started out as a fellow deputy trying to assist on a traffic stop ended with a pursuit, a fiery crash and the discovery of Carmichael’s masquerade.

A family friend who wished not to identified by name told NBC 7 that Carmichael was turned down by the Marines.

“He did want to be a Marine," the friend said. "We hadn’t heard anything lately.”

The friend said that Carmichael's second love was law enforcement.

“He’s a good kid, very strong for his size," the friend said. "He’d make a good law enforcement officer probably."

Sheriff’s investigators said Carmichael crashed his car fleeing a real sheriff’s deputy. The deputy thought he was trying to help a plainclothes deputy working a traffic stop. However, when the real deputy approached, investigators said, Carmichael fled to his vehicle and drove off.

"The deputy tried to pull over the suspect, but the driver kept going," investigators said in a news release. "At some point, the suspect turned off all his lights, making it too dangerous for the deputy to follow the suspect."

Soon though, the real deputy came upon a crash scene, where, officials said, Carmichael had driven down an embankment, starting a small brush fire that was quickly extinguished. Carmichael was brought to a hospital after the wreck, where he was treated and released into the custody of waiting officers.

Detective Sgt. Jason Scroggins of the sheriff's department told NBC 7 that Carmichael’s 18-year-old girlfriend was also in the car. He said she was under the impression Carmichael had completed his police training and she was on a ride-along of sorts. The teenager was not seriously injured in the crash, officials said.

“The family did say he was dealing with some issues they think he needs more help with, and he refuses help," Scroggins said.

Items seized by investigators in Oceanside on Monday. Photo courtesy of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Law enforcement verified that the vehicle's registration came back to the Carmichael's mother, who lives with her son in Oceanside in a large complex. Sheriff’s deputies and Oceanside police officers were there Monday afternoon, serving a search warrant. Between searches of the the house and a car, sheriff’s investigators said, they confiscated a black jacket and vest with sheriff patches, a utility belt, brass knuckles, a knife, flashlight, a retractable baton and replica pistols.

Police said that at the time of his arrest, Carmichael was carrying an air pistol in a holster, plus extra magazines with ammunition. Air pistols are not lethal weapons, of course. The badge found in his possession was plastic and read, Special Police.

A badge confiscated by police. Photo courtesy of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department

“If he would have stopped the wrong car or somebody who would have been combative, he had no way to protect himself” Scroggins pointed out.

Carmichael is now at the Vista Detention Center, where he awaits arraignment on Wednesday on charges of impersonating a peace office, felony evading, possession of a baton and brass knuckles, and false imprisonment. He is currently being held on $170,000 bail

Sheriff’s investigators told NBC 7 that Carmichael was arrested last year and charged with a misdemeanor count of impersonating a peace officer in the city of Oceanside.

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