Man accused of impersonating officer in Phoenix

PHOENIX - A Phoenix man is now facing charges of impersonating an officer, after police received a complaint from a woman and her grandmother who felt targeted by the suspect.

The women, who asked ABC15 not to reveal their identities, said around 3 p.m Saturday, they were on their way to go shopping when they crossed paths with Yotzin Carlos Corona.

The woman said her 66-year-old grandmother was driving near 27th and Northern avenues, when she stopped at a crosswalk to let a pedestrian pass. 

That was when the driver behind them activated flashing red and blue lights on his white Ford F-250 and started following them.

The women said they got nervous, as the vehicle appeared to be unmarked.

"I was scared, and I was shaking. My hands were shaking. I've never really been pulled over before," said the driver.

"The first thing I thought was, 'Oh no, she's getting a ticket, but for what?" added her granddaughter.

As the woman was about to pull over, her granddaughter said she noted the driver of the truck was dressed in a tank top, and that got her suspicious. She then pulled out her cell phone to try to get a picture of the man.

The woman says when he saw that, he drove around them and sped off.

Instead of driving away, the women decided to follow the man. They followed him for 10 minutes until he pulled into a strip mall. The women called 911 as they drove after him.

The suspect, later identified as Yotzin Corona, was arrested as he walked out of the Harbor Freight Store on 35th Avenue.

The woman said her adrenaline was pumping as she followed the suspect, as she did not know if he was dangerous or not, but she didn't want him getting away. 

"I just wanted to make sure he was checked out. I just want to know his intent. I hope he learned a lesson. You hear stories about this all the time, of people getting robbed by these impersonators. If he is one of those bad criminals, then I hope the justice system handles him appropriately," said the woman.

ABC15 checked in with several Valley police agencies and were told officers will often pull people over in unmarked vehicles.

Phoenix police say the officer should always display a badge when they approach a vehicle they pull over.

If the driver of the car is unsure if the officer is legitimate, they can ask to see their commission card, which every law enforcement officer is required to carry. The card has the officer's name, picture, serial number, rank, and department name on it.  

DPS officials released the following statement:  

Yes, we do use unmarked vehicles for traffic enforcement. If a driver is stopped by a state trooper, he/she will identify himself/herself and state the reason for the stop.  Troopers will give their badge number and produce identification when requested. If there is a question, the driver can call 911 to report the stop and request information to help find out if the vehicle behind them is a law enforcement representative. Remember to give the location of the stop and a description of the vehicle. There are instances in which a Criminal Investigations detective may make a traffic stop on a vehicle. Typically, Criminal Investigation detectives are wearing police-identifiable garments (jacket, shirt or armor with police markings) when making traffic stops, even in plain clothes. If a trooper, or detective, is in plain clothes and makes a stop, the driver may request a badge number, ID, and/or a local jurisdiction and/or another marked police unit to respond to the scene.

ABC15 spoke to the suspect who says his arrest was a misunderstanding. 

My intent was not to pull anyone over Nor scare her. I was just simply running some errands to Harbor freight and Ace Hardware to buy a lift jack. I ordered these and they were supposed to be amber and white to match my off-road light bars originally and by mistake came in emergency lights, never really took the time to take them back down just wrapped the cigarette lighter cable and never messed with it. Unfortunately, on my way out I confused the plug with another cigarette lighter cable that I use to charge my phone. They turned on for literally three seconds by mistake! Realizing that, I quickly pulled out the plug and realize the vehicle in front of me started braking.

I knew I probably freaked her/him out so I went around her and continued on with my commute but ended up choosing to go to Harbor Freights on 35th /Bethany instead to avoid following or freaking out the vehicle in front of me! I had my windows down and music blasting, was in a tank top and enjoying the weather! I drove normally as I did not know that the vehicle was following me at the time! I parked my truck, bought a jack and some tools and walked out to tons of police surrounding my vehicle! I was taken into custody because police were told by the victim I was pulling them over! But that’s was not the case, just a misunderstanding! I was not dressed in any police uniform whatsoever nor was my vehicle disguised of any other emergency equipment, Simply just an off-road truck.

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