Duval County

JSO: Car dealership employee impersonates police officer during traffic stop in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A car dealership employee is facing charges after he was caught pretending to be a police officer in Jacksonville during a traffic stop, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

A newly released arrest report stated that on the morning of Dec. 30, 2021, a JSO officer saw a man — believed to be an officer driving an unmarked car with police lights on — pull over another vehicle on I-95 North at the University Boulevard off-ramp.

The JSO officer, who stopped nearby to help who he thought was a fellow officer, said he saw the man standing outside the person’s vehicle, like an officer would, and later saw him pass the driver an unknown item, before letting the driver go.

The man saw the JSO officer, according to the arrest report, but didn’t acknowledge the officer’s presence. Instead, the man got back into the yellow Chevrolet Camaro and drove off.

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It was suspicious to the JSO officer that another officer wouldn’t “notify me that my efforts were appreciated,” so the JSO officer began investigating.

The JSO officer merged back into traffic and ran a search of the Camaro’s tag, and learned the car was a police car that belonged to the city of Green Cove Springs.

The JSO officer then drove up to the Camaro and waved to the driver, which is customary for officers when they see each other on the road, but the man, who was dressed in plain clothes, did not wave back.

At that time, the report stated the JSO officer saw a traffic infraction and pulled over another driver, as the Camaro continued driving on I-95 toward the Fuller Warren Bridge.

The officer later called the Green Cove Springs Police Department to ask why one of its officers would perform a traffic stop outside its jurisdiction.

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The officer learned from a dispatcher that a Duval Ford employee was supposed to be transporting the Camaro after it received police lights, but the car should not have been used for police activity.

The Green Cove Springs Police Department then began an investigation and confirmed that the man the officer saw was believed to be a Duval Ford employee conducting the traffic stop.

The dealership cooperated with the investigation to help find and identify the employee. He was identified as Fernando Torres, 41, of Orange Park.

Torres was found and arrested by police on Jan. 4 on charges of false impersonation of an official and unlawful use of blue lights.

Duval Ford has since fired Torres, the report stated.

We reached out to Duval Ford for further comment and the president, Alex Graham sent the following statement, “Duval Ford fully cooperated with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. We have no further comment.”

Aurielle Eady

Aurielle Eady, Action News Jax

Aurielle Eady is a digital content producer for Action News Jax.