Motorists Beware of Bogus Officer
Administrators with the Bandera County Sheriff's Office recently sent out a warning to Bandera County motorists in response to an incident that occurred on Monday, June 11.
According to the report, at approximately 7:30 am on that day, a female motorist was traveling to work on Highway 16 South near the intersection of Park Road 37. This happened approximately one mile south of the Bandera County line on Highway 16.
The unidentified woman reported that she pulled her vehicle over to the side of the highway after an ostensible law enforcement officer behind her had activated his emergency lights. The man, who identified himself as a law enforcement officer with the Harris County Sheriff's Office, approached the woman's vehicle. He stated he had pulled her over because of a defective license plate light.
According to the BCSO report, facets of the incident immediately raised red flags with local law enforcement officers. While having a defective license plate light violates the law, the traffic stop occurred during daylight hours. In conditions of sufficient light, a defective license plate light is not readily noticeable, said BCSO Chief Deputy Richard Smith.
Additionally, the officer identified himself as being with the Harris County Sheriff's Office. "While licensed Texas Peace Officers have jurisdiction all over the state in various capacities, it is unusual for an out-of-county officer to conduct a traffic stop for a minor equipment or traffic infraction outside of their regular jurisdiction," Smith noted.
According to the motorist, the officer issued her a written warning with his name and badge number on it.
However, after the woman refused to give him consent to search her vehicle, the man took the written warning back from her and left the location.
BCSO CID investigators and Smith investigated the incident. After contacting the Harris County Sheriff's Office, Smith determined that the "officer" involved in the traffic stop is not, in fact, a deputy with that law enforcement agency. The unit number marked on the car, which the woman provided, was determined to be false or incorrect, according to the report.
"We are still trying to identify this person and confirm his law enforcement status, if any," Smith said. "We are asking the public for assistance. Anyone who has observed this vehicle during the time of the incident or who has seen something similar is asked to call the Bandera County Sheriff's Office immediately at 830-796-3771."
The person of interest was described as a white male, 30-40 years old with short, dark brown hair, green eyes with a scar above his left eye. The man appeared to be approximately 6 feet tall with a medium build and has the tattoo "AC Ill" on his right arm.
Additionally, the person of interest identified himself as officer J. Paxton, badge # DB-29446.
The "patrol" car appeared to be a newer model, white Chevrolet Impala with black marks on the left front fender. The car, which had a light bar on top, also had "148" and "Harris County" stenciled in large blue letters on it.
This incident is being investigated in both Bexar and Bandera counties.
The woman motorist stated that, after leaving the scene the scene, the man headed north on Highway 16 toward Bandera County.
Smith urged motorists who encounter any unusual situations such as this one to use caution and report any suspicious activity to the BCSO or other appropriate law enforcement agencies.
He also offered the following safety tips for motorists:
• Most law enforcement vehicles are clearly marked with the agency type and name such as Bandera County Sheriff's Office.
• If an unmarked vehicle attempts to stop you or if you cannot tell if the vehicle is marked, activate your hazard flashers, maintain a slower speed and dial 9-1-1. The local 9-1-1 call center should be able to confirm if an officer is initiating a traffic stop.
• Tell the 9-1-1 emergency dispatch that you intend to drive to the nearest public area where there is sufficient light and other people around. Ask the 9-1-1 dispatcher to inform the officer of your intentions.
Pictured: Motorists stopped by an officer driving a vehicle similar to this one are asked to beware - especially if the Harris County SO patrol car sports emergency lights on the top. FYI, real ones have their blue and reds on the front grill.