Ellenton, Florida -- A game of pretend puts a Palmetto man behind bars. Police say he wants to enforce the law while breaking it.
It all began in September at the Ellenton Premium Outlet Mall. According to two undercover officers, Jonathan Stevens turned on flashing blue lights on his Chevrolet Tahoe, pulled over a woman at the mall and identifies himself as an officer. The undercover detectives who observed this then arrested Stevens.
On Sunday, December 29, Stevens was arrested again in Ybor City, this time pretending to be a Homeland Security official. Stevens reportedly called a police dispatch line to report a reckless driver and again turned on the emergency lights on his Tahoe. However, Stevens ended up pulling over a Tampa police officer who was wearing a badge around his neck and carrying a Glock .45 caliber handgun.
Russ Lebel lives down the street from Stevens' childhood home in Palmetto. Lebel describes Stevens as a normal young man until about a year ago when Stevens returned home after serving in the military.
"He got hit on the head, something fell on him, they let him out on a military discharge and after that he's had problems," says Lebel.
At one point Lebel thought Stevens had become a police officer since his vehicle was so similar to the one driven by Homeland Security officials.
Lebel says, "He's driving a white SUV with black mirrors, black tires- looks like an undercover vehicle. It caught my attention when I saw it in the driveway. I thought, is he a cop?"
Stevens was arrested for a third time on Tuesday. Police say he used his fake badge and asked for a discount at an Ybor restaurant and a chance to go on a ride-along program.
"I don't think he's a dangerous person, just think he's reaching out that's how he is doing it to get attention. He shouldn't be in jail, not getting any help there," says Lebel.
Stevens is being held at the Faulkenburg Jail in Tampa without bond.
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