2 women arrested for impersonating Sarasota law enforcement, livestreaming fake traffic stop

Local News

Jymieka McDowell, Ryshawnna Poole (Sarasota Police Department)

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Two Tampa Bay women are facing charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer after police say they stopped a car Sunday morning pretending to be Sarasota officers.

According to the Sarasota Police Department, detectives believe 28-year-old Jymieka McDowell, of Sarasota, and 39-year-old Ryshawnna Poole, of Manatee County, have done this before and are now asking any potential victim(s) to come forward.

Police say just before 1 a.m. Sunday, SPD officers responded to the 1200 block of 31st Street for a suspicious incident. The caller told officers they heard what they believed to be another SPD officer in distress.

While searching the area, police say officers instead found a car attempting to stop another vehicle near Cocoanut Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

According to police, the car had red and blue lights in the windshield and a siren. 

Sarasota police officers were able to make contact with McDowell, who was the driver, and Poole, who was a passenger. 

McDowell and Poole were arrested and taken to the Sarasota County Jail. They now face charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer and false imprisonment, in addition to several unrelated charges.

Police say the women livestreamed the fake traffic stop on Facebook. In the video, SPD said McDowell and Poole were claiming to be law enforcement officers, made threatening and derogatory statements to the driver and passengers of a car they had stopped. 

The victims in the car that had stopped do not know McDowell or Poole, according to the sheriff’s office.

Police say McDowell and Poole can be heard saying, “driver, exit the vehicle,” “put your *******
hands up driver,” “I need everyone to exit the ******* car,” “do not make a move,” “Black lives don’t ******* matter,” and “anybody move and I will shoot.”

“This wasn’t Sarasota police officers pulling over a car,” said Chief Bernadette DiPino. “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.”

SPD officers are asking if anyone has information on this case or were stopped by these women, to call the Sarasota Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 941-263-6070.

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