It wasn’t the interview Michael Caroselli had prepared for when he arrived at the Tega Cay Police Department one day last November.
When Caroselli showed up at the department for a job interview on Nov. 4, 2014, he was met by Rock Hill Police Department investigators with warrants for pointing and presenting a firearm and impersonating a law enforcement officer, a detective testified Wednesday. He was later interviewed at the Rock Hill Law Center.
Caroselli, a former deputy with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, is accused of pulling a gun on a woman and her son while claiming to be an officer after a traffic confrontation Oct. 29, 2014. The woman, Diana Foster, testified Tuesday that a Honda Civic was tailgating her and her son as they returned home from a store, and she pulled off to the side and then began following the car after it passed her in order to get the tag number.
The car continued onto Capstone Court, where they lived, she said. When they drove down Capstone and turned around in a cul-de-sac, the driver of the car reportedly got out and approached their truck in the road with a badge and gun, beating on the truck, telling Foster to get out and that he was a law enforcement officer.
Caroselli’s recorded interview with Rock Hill Police Detective Ryan Thomas was played in court Wednesday. During the interview, he told Thomas he was a deputy for 2.5 years and had a job interview with another agency scheduled for that day. While recalling the events from several days prior, Caroselli said he was concerned when the truck started following him and became scared when, he said, the truck pulled in behind him at his mother’s home.
“This woman followed me to my mother’s house,” Caroselli says on the recording, referring to Foster. “She brought whatever fight she had with her to an address that she doesn’t live at, for whatever reason.”
Caroselli said he first thought the pickup driver was lost because the vehicle was traveling so slowly. When the truck pulled off on the side of the road, he said, he thought the driver might have been experiencing a medical emergency.
“As soon as I open my door, she makes a left turn onto the roadway,” he says, adding that he started driving again and continued to his mother’s home.
“She pulled up to the house, first in front of the mailbox, then behind me,” Caroselli said. “I don’t know if this is somebody I’ve arrested, I don’t know if this is somebody who was trying to carjack me. I have no idea. There’s still that law enforcement mentality.”
The pickup’s driver kept the window up and kept yelling at him, Caroselli said, adding that he couldn’t make out what she was saying.
“She kept hollering, ‘This is my car! This is my car!’” he said during the interview.
Caroselli at one point during the interview said he would have been within his rights to shoot Foster if she’d gotten out of the truck on his property. He then said that was an exaggeration.
“What I’m saying is, I’m in a place that I have to be. I have no duty to retreat,” he said. “I don’t have a responsibility. She came to the house.”
Caroselli told Thomas he never cursed at Foster and that he yelled at her to “get out” of the neighborhood, not “get out of the car.” He denied showing a badge to her.
“Since I was let go, I have not uttered the phrase, ‘Police,’ ‘I’m a deputy sheriff,’ ‘I’m a law enforcement officer,’ not pulled over anybody,” he said. “It doesn’t work that way.”
He admitted to pulling his handgun from his ankle holster but denied pointing it at Foster.
Thomas testified that police spoke with a homeowner on Capstone Court who heard the commotion that night.
“He heard someone – what he described as – beating on a vehicle,” Thomas said. “Then he heard a male voice yelling, ‘Get the (expletive) out of the car.’”
Defense attorney Richard D’Agostino went through the investigation with a fine-tooth comb Wednesday, questioning officers’ lack of probable cause the night of the incident, the information considered when deciding to obtain a warrant and what he said was a lack of specificity with identifying where in Caroselli’s car evidence items were found.
Thomas said the degree of specificity when logging evidence varies from case to case and that because there had been no other passengers in the car when Caroselli was arrested, they didn’t feel the need to differentiate where in the car the items were found.
Noting Caroselli’s law enforcement training, Thomas was skeptical of the fear the former deputy reported feeling during the incident and said someone with his training would be “inquisitive but not scared.” When deciding to obtain a warrant, Thomas said, part of his evaluation was based on the fact that Caroselli had formal law enforcement training.
“So you’re holding him to a higher standard than a normal citizen?” D’Agostino asked.
“Of course,” Thomas said.