The Bradenton Herald
SARASOTA, Fla. — Two Florida women are in jail after police say that they impersonated law enforcement officers and conducted a fake traffic stop early Sunday in Sarasota.
Jymieka McDowell, 28, of Sarasota, and Ryshawnna Poole, 39, of Ellenton, used red and blue lights and a siren to stop a vehicle with several people inside, according to the Sarasota Police Department.
Actual Sarasota police officers had been called to the 1200 block of 31st Street for a report of a police officer in distress, according to the Police Department.
Instead, they say they found a vehicle conducting an illegitimate traffic stop near Cocoanut Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
One of the women conducting the false traffic stop livestreamed part of the interaction on Facebook.
In the video, two women who police have identified as McDowell and Poole can be heard laughing, giving orders and making threats against the people in an SUV that they pulled over. A third woman who police did not identify is also present with Poole and McDowell in the video.
Throughout the encounter, the video shows that McDowell yelled at the occupants of the stopped SUV, while Poole occasionally told her what to say.
The statements included orders to “Get the (expletive) out of the vehicle,” “Put your (expletive) hands up,” and “Do not make a move,” as well as threats such as “Anybody move, I will shoot.”
Poole can also be heard suggesting that McDowell say “Black lives don’t (expletive) matter.” McDowell then yells “Black lives don’t (expletive) matter to me,” at the occupants of the stopped vehicle. Arrest records identify both women as Black.
About three minutes into the video, the driver of the SUV attempts to drive away, but McDowell follows close behind in her vehicle and again stops the SUV farther down the road.
The occupants of the SUV did not know McDowell or Poole, according to the police department.
Officers were able to make contact with McDowell and Poole, and they were arrested on Sunday. Both women were also charged for unrelated incidents of theft in Manatee County. On Sunday evening, they remained in custody at the Sarasota County Jail.
Detectives say they believe that McDowell and Poole may have conducted other false traffic stops in addition to the one witnessed by police. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sarasota Police Department at (941) 263-6070.
“This wasn’t Sarasota Police officers pulling over a car,” said Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino in a prepared statement. “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.”
(c)2021 The Bradenton Herald (Bradenton, Fla.)