Malvern, PA – A Pennsylvania judge has lowered the bond of a self-declared sovereign citizen accused of dragging a Malvern police officer with her vehicle during a traffic stop.
Janay Rebecca Smith, 27, has been charged with multiple offenses, including resisting arrest, fleeing or attempting to elude, recklessly endangering another person, and aggravated assault of a police officer, the Daily Local News reported.
The incident began on Dec. 20, 2018, when Malvern Police Officer Tyler Bury spotted a black Chevrolet Monte Carlo as it ran through a stop sign near the Raintree Apartment complex.
Officer Bury pulled in behind the driver – later identified as Smith – and watched as the vehicle blew through three more stop signs on King Street.
A moment later, Smith pulled into a shopping center parking lot.
Officer Bury walked over to her car and knocked on the window to speak with her, but Smith just cracked the window and told him to wait.
The officer asked her for her driver’s license, so Smith handed him a homemade identification card bearing the name "Jahnay Rebekkah Bey,” and told him she was an “American National,” the Daily Local News reported.
Officer Bury was unable to find a record of a valid driver’s license for Smith, so Officer Patrick Dougherty responded to the scene to assist.
Officer Dougherty informed Smith that she was being detained until they could positively identify her, at which point she refused to get out of her vehicle.
As the officers attempted to remove her from the car, Smith fought with them, stomped on the accelerator, and threw the car into drive.
Officer Dougherty was dragged by the vehicle for 10 to 15 feet before he tumbled onto the ground.
Smith fled the scene, but was located by Tredyffrin police on Route 30 about a half hour later.
She was placed under arrest, and has remained in jail since that time.
Officer Dougherty was transported to Paoli Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries. He was able to return to work about a week later.
During her bond hearing on Friday, Common Pleas Court Senior Judge Robert Shenkin raised concerns about two letters Smith penned to the court from her jail cell.
Smith wrote that she “is not an American citizen,” and said that she is a member of the “Moorish American” movement, Shenkin said during the hearing.
Moors are an offshoot of the sovereign citizen movement who believe that black people have special rights because of a 1780s treaty with Morocco and that black people are indigenous to the Americas.
The terrorist who ambushed and shot six Baton Rouge law enforcement officers in 2016 was involved with the Moorish sovereign movement.
Smith also wrote that she takes issue with “the jurisdiction of the courts of Pennsylvania,” Shenkin said.
“i am jahnay rebekkah bey moorish american aboriginal and indiginous to the land,” one letter read, according to the Daily Local News. “i am in propria persona as my self for my self free white person at law…i am not a 14th amendment construct or artificial person i am declared national i am an african descendant not us citizens as us citizen ship is unlawful pursuant to the constitution article 13.”
Shenkin said that Smith’s beliefs that she is a sovereign citizen “plays into her incentive to flee,” and “[raises] serious doubts that Ms. Smith recognizes the authority of the courts.”
“Why shouldn’t I take that into consideration?” the judge asked.
Smith’s attorney, Peter Jurs, seemed surprised to learn of his client’s beliefs, but insisted that she should be given a reduced bail because she was on the dean’s list at her college and had no prior criminal history, the Daily Local News reported.
"She assures me she will comply in every way with her bail restrictions,” Jurs told Shenkin.
Deputy District Attorney Michelle Frei adamantly argued against lowering Smith’s bail, and pointed out that she allegedly dragged a law enforcement officer with a motor vehicle.
“She is a danger to the community,” Frei declared.
Despite the concerns he raised throughout the hearing, Shenkin inexplicably opted to give Smith an opportunity to walk out of jail.
“If you are released, will you comply with [the bail] conditions?” Shenkin asked Smith at one point during the bond hearing.
“Yes, I will,” she answered.
And so, Shenkin dropped her bail to $3,500.
“If you continue to rely on such statements [like those in the letters,] you are risking serious potential problems in addition to the serious problems you are already facing,” the judge told Smith. “You have to seriously consider your best interests in the real world.”