BEXAR COUNTY, Texas – An off-duty prison guard was arrested for impersonating a police officer during a traffic stop.

The incident happened just after midnight Sunday when a Bexar County Sheriff’s Office Deputy on patrol saw white Ford Crown Victoria with flashing emergency lights on. The vehicle was performing a traffic stop in the 2100 block of Cullum Park.

The deputy stopped and investigated the situation.

"The deputy stopped initially to see if it was an outside agency that needed help on a traffic stop and stopped to cover the officer, but then soon realized that things weren't adding up," Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said.

According to BCSO, the person performing the stop was not a police officer, but an off-duty prison guard.

The deputy arrested 31-year-old Justin Coats on the charge of impersonating a public servant.

BCSO wants the public to study the suspect, uniform and car in case other crimes like this occur. IF you are aware of other crimes involving the suspect or vehicle, you are asked to call the Criminal Investigations Division at 210-335-6070.

"As a veteran police officer, it certainly runs chills up your spine thinking about the possibilities. In this instance, he was pulling over a single female in a somewhat remote area, so one can only speculate as to motive," Salazar said.

Salazar also said Coats reportedly claims to have stopped the driver in this case because she was suspected of DWI.

"The vehicle he was driving is quite similar to many of the cars that we use, but it's quite possible this is a former police car with some of the emergency lights in it," Salazar said.

BSCO also wanted to remind the public that if they in doubt whether an officer stopping them is real or if it is in an unpopulated area, they may:

  • Activate their hazard lights
  • Slow their speed, but continue driving
  • Gesture to the officer that they intend to stop
  • Continue driving in this manner to a populated/safer area
  • May ask to see the officer's I.D.
  • Call 911 if in doubt