ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A registered sex offender who was impersonating an officer while directing traffic for a funeral procession reached for his gun during a fight with an actual deputy, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
The deputy involved said he was driving his truck near Minnesota Avenue and Highway 17/92 on Sept. 16 when he noticed a man with a motorcycle who appeared to be a law enforcement officer directing traffic, records show. A Chevrolet Tahoe then pulled up and that driver, Jeremy Dewitte, got out and then directing traffic, according to the report.
The deputy, who was off duty with his wife and son, saw this same pattern happen at several intersections along Highway 17/92 until Dewitte directed the deputy to move into the right lane, which he was blocking, the affidavit said.
Dewitte, 39, was yelling at the deputy, telling him, "You cannot drive in and out of my funeral" and, "It doesn't matter, get out of my escort, (expletive) boy," records show.
Dewitte is also accused of slapping the hood of the deputy's truck as he drove by and repeatedly placing his hand on his holstered gun as if he were reaching for it.
Records show Dewitte was wearing a body camera, a bulletproof vest, police-style pants and boots, a polo and a gun belt that contained radios, handcuffs, a Taser, a flashlight and more.
His vehicle had flashing lights, a siren and decals that read Metro State and Vehicle Protection Unit, according to the report.
Dewitte was arrested Tuesday on a charge of falsely impersonating an officer.
Records show that arrest was the third time Dewitte was recently accused of the same crime.
According to documents, a deputy was in Windermere on Sept. 7 when he saw Dewitte cross over the double yellow line toward oncoming traffic.
Deputies said Dewitte was dressed as a law enforcement officer and uncooperative during that incident.
He was arrested on charges of resisting an officer without violence, falsely impersonating an officer and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
On Sept. 26, deputies said Dewitte was talking on the phone with a woman who had a citizen complaint and that he recorded his calls with her without her knowledge.
The woman said Dewitte was operating a motorcycle with lights and sirens before he started directing traffic, records show. Dewitte was acting as a police officer and looked like a law enforcement officer, according to the affidavit.
The witness said Dewitte and the drivers of the other vehicles in the funeral convoy were driving aggressively, deputies said.
Video from a body camera Dewitte was wearing showed him driving between two lanes of vehicles and entering an intersection while the traffic light was red, according to authorities.
In that case, Dewitte is accused of falsely impersonating an officer and interception of electric communications.
Dewitte was convicted in 2005 of sexual battery on a person 12 to 15 years old. He is registered as a sexual offender.
Dewitte posted his bail and was released from the Orange County Jail. He spoke to News 6 about the charges.
According to Dewitte, he is not impersonating a law enforcement officer but instead offering a safety service.
"We can direct traffic only in regard to our funeral. If somebody is pulling into our funeral (procession) and slamming on their brakes and causing the funeral to slam on their brakes, that's putting them in danger," he told News 6. "If we ask them to get out, we're not directing them, I'm asking them to get out of my funeral. I'm not saying, 'Turn here, go there, pull over.' Never saying those words, I'm saying, 'Get out of my funeral.'"
Dewitte said he also has body camera video showing the off-duty deputy hit him with his vehicle. News 6 has requested the video from the Sheriff's Office, but did not receive a response by deadline.
Dewitte said his business is still operating, adding he's been doing this for 10 years and never had problems before.