(Photos: Fauquier County Sheriff's Office)
WARRENTON, Va. - A Virginia man has been charged with impersonating a police officer after authorities say he followed a woman through three states in a vehicle that appeared to resemble a police car.
The Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office says a female driver called 911 last Saturday at around 4:48 p.m. reporting that she was in fear for her safety after she was followed by a car that had “police” markings and functioning blue lights from Western Maryland, through West Virginia, and into Fauquier County. The woman reported that the driver of the vehicle was using the vehicle’s emergency equipment to maneuver through traffic to keep up with her.
A Fauquier County Sheriff’s deputy located the police car traveling on Route 29 in Warrenton and caught up with the vehicle to conduct a traffic stop on 28-year-old Jerry Lentz Saintvil.
He told the deputy that the vehicle had been used to film a music video in Winchester, Virginia, and he was driving home to Fredericksburg. However, he provided false identification and conflicting statements to the deputy, according to sheriff’s office.
Saintvil was eventually charged with impersonating a police officer, false ID to law enforcement to avoid arrest and driving on a suspended license. Officials say he has been charged with impersonating an officer before.
He is being without bond at the Fauquier County Adult Detention Center.
Authorities say the vehicle Saintvil was operating was a white and blue 2010 Chevrolet Impala with the word “police” on the doors and trunk. It also had a North Carolina license plate that read "FILM CAR." He was not the registered owner of the look-alike police vehicle.
According the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office, several police-style items were found in the vehicle. The gear included a tactical vest with a “special police” badge, a Department of Justice pin with a DOJ badge, ammunition carriers with a tactical flashlight attached to the vest, a police-duty belt with a handcuff case, an airsoft gun and portable radios.
"No actual real firearms so to speak, but an airsoft gun displayed in a certain situation could be mistaken for a real firearm and could lead to injury or death," said Fauquier County Sheriff Sgt. James Hartman.
Officials say the registered owner of the vehicle was contacted, but was uncooperative with the investigation.
If you experience a situation where you are unsure if you are encountering a real officer or an impersonator, Sgt. Hartman said, "You can always call 911 and ask a dispatcher to verify, 'Is this a real police officer trying to pull me over?' You can go to a well-lit, well-populated area such as a shopping center or a gas station or something like that where you would feel more comfortable having people around to try to find out is this a legitimate police stop. And always a police officer when he approaches you will identify himself."