Knoxville, TN - Knoxville Police Officer Trey Lane was injured during a traffic stop on Wednesday, June 14, when the 'sovereign citizen' driver bit off part of his thumb, according to The Knoxville News Sentinel.
The incident occurred about 1:15 p.m. when Officer Lane and another Knoxville Police Officer, Tim Edwards, were working traffic enforcement in the area due to citizen complaints. They observed a driver, later identified as Alexander Johnson, age 29, speeding down Woodbine Street, according to WATE.
Officer Lane and Officer Edwards stopped Johnson's Acura MDX on Woodbine Avenue for speeding. Both Officer Lane and Officer Edwards immediately noticed the license plate on Johnson's car.
It wasn't a legal license plate, but a plate designated as 'Sovereign Hebrew', and which said it had been issued by 'the Royal Tribe of Judah'. When asked by the officers about his plate and driver's license, Johnson claimed to be a 'Sovereign Hebrew Israelite citizen'.
He refused to comply with any other questions or commands. Both officers moved in to arrest Johnson, who began fighting them. During the fight, Johnson bit off the end of Officer Lane's thumb. He was eventually taken into custody.
Officer Lane was transported to a local hospital and had surgery Wednesday afternoon. Officer Edwards received an injury to his leg during the fight, was transported to a local hospital, and is believed to have been treated and released.
Johnson was arrested on traffic charges, and and is being held in the Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility. He will also be charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest. He was not injured.
A female passenger in the car was detained for questioning and has since been released.
Sovereign citizens used to be a movement made up of crazy white men, but has now spread to many different groups of people over the internet. Markeith Loyd, the killer of Orlando Police Lieutenant Debra Clayton, claimed sovereign citizen status in court after he was apprehended.
Sovereign citizens believe that federal, state, and local laws don't apply to them. They generally refuse to acknowledge government agencies, especially police departments. Often they refuse to pay taxes and issue their own driver's license and other legal documents. The only legal law enforcement authority that they may recognize is that of the Sheriff; at least, until they disagree with the Sheriff.
Do you think that judges should be extra harsh with these nutjobs? We'd like to hear what you think. Please let us know in the comments.