Phoenix, AZ – A man who led police on a high-speed chase that ended in a violent head-on collision on Wednesday said, during a jailhouse press conference, that there was “no probable cause” to arrest him, and that resisting arrest was “absolutely legal.”
Mitchell Taebel, 31, said he is a sovereign citizen who does not believe in government, KTVK reported.
"There's no probable cause. It's absolutely legal to resist arrest with force, to the extent of taking an officer's life if necessary," Taebel told a group of reporters from jail on Thursday.
Not only did officers have probable cause, but Taebel's statement appears to be from case law on Plummer v State of Indiana.
That case law was very narrow and only applied to the state of Indiana.
The State of Indiana later adopted a rule that a person does not have a right to resist an unlawful arrest, effectively making the old case law irrelevant.
The pursuit of Taebel began just before 10 a.m., when a Department of Public Safety (DPS) sergeant attempted to stop Taebel’s red SUV due to an illegal lane change.
Taebel said he didn’t feel “comfortable” stopping for the unmarked unit, and that there “was still no reason to stop in the first place.”
“If it was a different car, a different officer, I may have felt differently about stopping,” he said. “I did know it was an officer, yes.”
Taebel repeatedly referred to the patrol car as a “Crown Royal,” and noted that it was “the most unprofessional looking police car I’ve ever seen.”
“I was stopping to get gas, and they attacked my vehicle,” he claimed.
Taebel then led officers on a pursuit that spanned 60 miles, and reached speeds up to 115 mph, KTVK reported.
“I wasn’t really running, I was just kind of driving along and moving out of the way,” he said, adding that officers were “throwing spike strips at me” as he was “just driving along.”
Officers pursued Taebel on and off the freeway, and through congested areas, as he headed towards Tempe.
"As that vehicle approached one of the stoplights it was held up in traffic,” DPS Trooper Kameron Lee told KTVK. “At that point, two of our unmarked vehicles tried to box in the SUV to get it to stop and take the suspect into custody. But the suspect veered to the right and rammed one of our patrol cars and then continued southbound at a high rate of speed."
Taebel accelerated, then sideswiped a white SUV while trying to weave through traffic.
"He continued into the intersection where it struck a black SUV, almost head-on, causing a major collision," Trooper Lee said.
The impact sent up a cloud of smoke, and metal from the vehicles littered the roadway. A 47-year-old female motorist was transported to the hospital with a broken hand and foot.
Taebel then attempted to flee on foot, and was quickly apprehended by police, in what Taebel declared was an “unlawful arrest.”
He told reporters that he contacted the mayor and called 911 during the pursuit to explain the situation to them, and that he told 911 to have the officers "fall back."
“They did turn off their lights and backed off for a bit,” he said.
Taebel initially said that he tried to reach the mayor, then claimed he had successfully spoken to the mayor. Later, he said he left the mayor a message, and that he hadn’t heard back from him yet, so it is unclear what conversation – if any – may have transpired.
He said that he hoped the mayor would reconsider and dismiss the charges against him, now that he has heard his statement about the incident.
Taebel claimed that, unless he was immediately released, the police and prosecutors could be federally charged with kidnapping for his unlawful arrest.
That offense, he said, was punishable by up to life in prison or by the death penalty.
“So the police are out of line here,” he said. “They need better training.”
Taebel argued that, because officers knew who he was and had his contact information, they could have just issued a warrant for his arrest instead of pursuing him.
“You don’t aggressively chase people and pursue them, because it just instigates issues and can cause problems and jeopardize the safety of other people,” he rationalized.
“The police and the city should be held liable for harassment for my accident,” Taebel concluded. “That’s what it had to be. I had to speed off ... They’re entirely accountable for that.”
Taebel also blamed police for any other injuries sustained by innocent civilians during the pursuit, including the woman he hit head-on.
“She should file a joint suit along with me against the city,” he said with some excitement. “It’s unfortunate that anyone else had to be involved in an accident.”
According to DPS, Taebel has an extensive criminal history in multiple states, including violent felonies and misdemeanors. He also served prison time in New York, KTVK reported.
“If you have an impression that I have been arrested, look at the federal case laws that I have,” Taebel said. “I have several against me for unreasonable arrest without probable cause ... I’ve had several issues with police before from being charged with things that I’m absolutely innocent of and I’m filing suits against them for those arrests.”
In December of 2017, Taebel filed court paperwork asking for $500 million in damages after his application for an Arizona apartment was denied due to his criminal history, The Arizona Republic reported.
Taebel, who also said he would file suit for the “degrading” handcuffs and jumpsuit he was required to wear as he spoke with reporters, took a moment during the press conference to plug his own website, which contained details of many of his lawsuits.
Some of his lawsuits called for the executions of officers who have arrested him in the past, KVOA reported.
He noted that he was a filmmaking major, and that his site linked to his various projects, “for anyone who’s not familiar with that.”
"What we see in the filings is not just anger, you know. We see a system of questioning the very nature of the rule of law in the United States," Southern Poverty Law Center’s Ryan Lenz told KVOA. "In many ways, you start to see that sort of rhetoric as someone goes down the rabbit hole of sovereign citizenry."
Lenz clarified that Taebel is an anti-government extremist, not strictly a sovereign citizen.
Taebel’s attorney, Brian Russo, said that Taebel was “previously diagnosed with some mental health issues” that he did not address, the Associated Press reported.
“My client has well-documented mental health issues that may or may not play a role in the offense,” Russo said.
According to KNXV, Taebel has been charged with unlawful flight from a law enforcement vehicle, five counts of aggravated assault, exceeding speeds of 85 mph, reckless driving, and endangerment.
He was being held on $400,000 bond.
You can see the video of the interview below