LUTZ (FOX 13) - A father-and-son dinner in Pasco County Monday ended with an alarming run-in with, what the father believes, was a fake deputy and he wants the man arrested.
Johnathan Herold and his son, Justin, were on their way home from dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings in Wesley Chapel. And they were in Herold's brand new Corvette Z-06; the loud engine and quick acceleration are attention-grabbers.
Herold believes his vehicle annoyed a wanna-be deputy who was driving an older Chevrolet Impala that he had just passed on State Road 54 in Lutz.
"He just wanted to feel powerful. He was going to pull over this new Corvette and give him a piece of his mind," Herold said.
Herold told FOX 13 the driver of the Impala turned on a set of dashboard police lights, so Herold pulled into a parking lot. The Impala, however, didn't stop and the police lights were turned off.
"As soon as he killed the lights, we knew something was up," Herold said. "My son and I both looked at each other at the same time and was like, 'that's not a cop.' So we took off and chased him down."
Herold said they wanted to get the driver's license plate number. After a few minutes, they followed the other car into another parking lot and the driver got out, throwing a sheriff's badge around his neck in the process.
The confrontation that followed was recorded by Herold's son.
"Guys, guys, you need to f------ slow down, number one. I'm on a call, number two," the driver can be heard shouting at Herold. "And if you chase me again, I'm going to put you in jail. Get your f------ car out of here and go before I run your tag again. Go!"
"He was just irate, the way that he acted," Herold told FOX 13, adding he thinks he knows why the man confronted them. "He's nervous. He was trying to get away from us, but he knows he's not going to out-run that car. That was his only play."
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office confirmed detectives are looking into the case. Herold said he got more concrete information from the deputy who responded to his call.
"I met with a Pasco County Sheriff's deputy and he said, as far as they could tell, he wasn't a cop," he said.
A law enforcement expert watched the video and told FOX 13 he agrees that the man in the video was impersonating a deputy and should be charged. The expert said the badge didn't look real and a deputy who is "on a call" would not be dressed in the clothes the man was wearing. On top of that, an Impala that had been used by police or deputies can be bought at an auction.
Herold's son still can't believe this happened.
"I thought he was just going to talk to us and tell us to leave and write us a ticket. But I didn't think he was going to be so volatile," he said, adding it's frightening to think people like this are out there. "It would be a little scary. I wouldn't know what to do if some guy came up in an unmarked cop car and started directing me somewhere."
That's why Herold said he decided to take matters into his own hands.
"My son is getting ready to start driving and he would have had no clue," he said. "Someone like that doesn't need to be on the street."