BETHEL HEIGHTS, Ark. (KFSM) — A Springdale man driving on Thompson Street said he turned on the deck lights of a former patrol car because he wanted to avoid traffic and get home.
Aaron Salas-Soto, 20, was arrested Wednesday (Aug. 14) in connection with felony first-degree criminal impersonation. He also faces misdemeanor charges of careless driving and illegal window tint.
After initially being stopped by an off-duty Benton County sheriff’s deputy, Salas-Soto told Bethel Heights police he turned the lights on and drove down the center lane to avoided other cars.
Salas-Soto said he understood how the car could be mistaken for a police vehicle, but added that he had never done this before, according to an arrest affidavit.
Police said the car, a white Dodge Charger, was outfitted with a police antenna and a yellow deck light hard-wired into the car.
Inside the vehicle, officers found two handheld radios with earphones and a microphone, as well as a camera mounted on the windshield, according to the affidavit.
Salas-Soto said he bought the car already outfitted with the equipment. He said he bought it from a dealership which in turn purchased it from a police auction, according to the affidavit.
Salas-Soto is free on a $3,000 bond. He’s due Sept. 23 in Benton County Circuit Court.
Criminal impersonation is a Class D felony when a person uses a vehicle “designed, equipped, or marked so as to resemble … a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency,” according to Arkansas Code Annotated 5-37-208.
Class D felonies are punishable by up to six years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.