The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Colorado Man Shot Dead by Police May Have Been ‘Sovereign’

By Hatewatch Staff on June 20, 2013 - 2:31 pm, Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens
Lewis Pollard

The investigation continued Thursday into another violent confrontation between authorities and a suspected antigovernment  “sovereign citizen,” a 61-year-old Navy veteran who was shot and killed by police early Saturday morning in the small Colorado town of Fruita.

Authorities say Lewis Pollard, a longtime Fruita resident, brandished a handgun and pointed it at a police officer at his home shortly after he fled a routine traffic stop at 12:40 a.m. Three officers opened fire, striking Pollard multiple times, according to media accounts that quoted a statement from the Fruita Police Department.

The statement suggested that Pollard’s alleged “sovereign citizen” beliefs might have been at the root of the confrontation that left him dead and the three officers on administrative leave, standard procedure after a shooting, The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction, Colorado, reported Monday.

On July 19, 2011, Pollard wrote on his Facebook page that he was a “Free Man.”

His declaration continued: “I have renounced my citizenship to the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA which is a corperation and clamed my individual rights as an american who upholds the freedom as an individual who lives under the laws of the constition the United States and as a free man I revoke all clames on me and my children grand children and great grand children so say I Lewis Be Pollard American living on the Colorado Republic near [81521-9998]”

The strange subculture of the sovereign citizens movement, whose adherents hold truly bizarre, complex antigovernment beliefs, has been growing at a fast pace since the late 2000s. Sovereigns believe that they – not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials – get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don’t think they should have to pay taxes.

Sovereigns are clogging up the courts with indecipherable filings and when cornered, many of them lash out in rage, frustration and, in the most extreme cases, acts of deadly violence, usually directed against law enforcement. In May 2010, for example, a father-son team of sovereigns murdered two officers with an assault rifle when they were pulled over on the interstate while traveling through West Memphis, Ark.

Whether Pollard’s beliefs had anything to do with what happened early Saturday morning is yet to be determined. The investigation is expected to last several weeks.

So far, details remain somewhat sketchy. The police say Pollard was pulled over in a Ford Ranger at 12:40 a.m. in Fruita for a routine traffic stop. After a brief conservation, he drove away. There was no chase, according to police.

But the police spotted his car a short time later parked in front of a trailer and heard loud voices coming from inside. When they knocked on the door, Pollard emerged with the gun.

A few moments later, the American veteran was dead.

  • aadila

    aadila, since when has the law actually managed to stop nutcases from getting guns?


    Erika,

    Unless the mentally ill spontaneously self-identify on their federal background questionnaire for handguns, there appears to be nothing standing in the way of their getting a gun in America.

    Basically what the right wing wants is for gun buyers to “self regulate”, so that mentally ill, drug addicts, convicts, wife beaters, and other such unsuitable gun owners (all on their own!) step up and do the right thing which is to reveal their disqualifications when deciding to purchase a weapon. The gun seller is then supposed to say, oh, paranoid schizophrenic? Crack addict on a bender? Violent criminal record? Sorry, sir I am really not supposed to transfer this gun to you. Maybe you can come back when you feel better.

    As we have seen, self regulation works as well among gun owners as it does in the financial sector.

  • Erika

    So Sam’s solution is “surprise weapons sweeps” of those who are prohibited from possessing them??? In other words, sending in the SWAT team into the “wrong” neighborhoods or trailer parks (you know the ones filled with poor people) to kick in everyone’s doors (and maybe shoot a few children while they are at it). Maybe we can have some “Stop and Frisk” plans where the police stop everyone walking down the street who happens to be a young black or Hispanic male and searches them for illegal guns or drugs.

    hey, maybe you can send along the cameras and have some episodes of “Cops” or create a new reality show to be shown on Fox – maybe America’s Funniest Police Bloopers where police before the camera knock down the door of the wrong house blow the head off of an elderly person, a sleeping child, or a puppy

    And why limit the fun to the official police – i’m sure that Sheriff Joe will lead the way in creating his own posse of people wanting to kick in the doors of people’s homes and taking whatever they want.

    And who cares about that pesky 4th Amendment – might as well just send it to the shredder – reasonable suspicion??? What is that – who needs it, i mean don’t they realize that the Bill of Rights only protects the right people who live in good neighborhoods.

    Seriously, that is your solution??? “Suprise Weapons Sweeps?” Even more draconian sentences? So basically in order to protect the Second Amendment from a non-existent threat you want to destroy the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments??? Awesome – kids watching at home, see how fast the NRA and their dupes like Sam embrace outright fascist techniques just to protect their precious little guns :P

  • Erika

    Sam, your reliance on the NRA News for information on guns is as foolish as seeking information about the safety of smoking cigarettes from the Tobacco Instiite. In fact, ultimately the NRA is very much like The Tobacco Institute – in that ultimately all they care about is helping the profit margin of their owners. In the case of the Tobacco Institute that was by sponsoring “research” questioning the link between smoking and lung cancer, and claiming that smoking restrictions were infringements on people’s freedom (in fact, they sponsored several astroturf “smoker’s rights” groups) – of course, the Tobacco Institute was a front group for the tobacco companies – their only interest was to sell more cigarettes. . In the case of the NRA that is spreading paranoia to convince people to buy more guns and that anyone who supports even the most milesquost gun control is out to seize your penis (oopsie, i mean guns) and put you in a concentration camp. The reason is simple – the NRA is not a grass roots organization that speaks for gun owners – it is an astroturf front group for firearms manufactuers and also the Republican Party (anyone who doubts that hte NRA is a Republican Astroturf group look at the 2009 Virginia Governor’s Race where they backed a Republican who supported past Gun Control measures over a Democrat with a perfect 100 rating from the NRA.. Their only interest is to sell more guns – and the way to do that is by spreading paranoia and fear. Whether it is fear of crime or fear of the jack booted government thugs (who strangely onl yseem to exist when a Democrat is in the White House) coming to seize your penis (oopsie, guns) – with a large helping of racism.

    Polls from the right, left, and middle have all been consistent showing 90% of the public supports universal background checks. It doesn’t matter. The politicans will do the bidding special interests that elected them and ultimately own them. There is a reason why Congress never ever passed meaningful legislation against the tobacco industry – indeed Congress protected the tobacco industry.

    Sam the fact that you try to deny the obvious. influence of corporate money on our political practice – even ignoring the overwhelming support that universal background checks have in polls (even among self described gun owners) speaks volumes. Of course, since the right wing’s entire economic plan during my entire life has been premised on a violation the Second Law of Thermodynamics (or as it is sometimes called the First law of Economics: there is no such thing as a free lunch) it is hardly surprising that modern right wingers fail to understand why things keep getting more and more slanted to the top 1% of the population.

    And it is hardly surpirsing that people like Sam do not realize that the plutocrats like Mktt Romney and corporate interests like the people who run the NRA view him as a “useful idiot” or a sucker.

    Seriously, i don’t think that Sam has any idea how stupid he really sounds.

  • Sam Molloy

    Erika, 90% of the people you personally know does not mean 90% of the general population. Background checks at every booth at a gun show event can not completely stop the flow of guns into the wrong hands, but they would severely curtail their shopping options. Unfortunately the antigun people seemed to be holding out for a total registration system, which is currently so unpopular it has zero chance of becoming law. And the ACLU, not the NRA, was responsible for medical records being not part of the current background check system. Hence the current stalemate of progress. IMO we are back to the concept of more fully enforcing existing laws, with longer sentences for violent criminals and funding for suprise weapons sweeps with implied probable cause for those who are legally prohibited from having them.

  • Sam Molloy

    Gregory, there is a whole branch of Christianity, sarcastically referred to as the “name it and claim it” bunch, that really gets into the power of words. Often told examples given by them are people that whine “I get sick every year at this time” or “I’ll never have a good job”, as opposed to people who are careful to speak only good things about their futures. There is a lot of truth in this, although also plenty of people have spoken optimistically about getting over some disease right up to the day they die from it. Possibly the Sovereigns have developed a version of this that a) does not work when dealing with any sane legal system and b) does not work in a Spiritual sense if their motives are to enhance their personal power over the universe.

  • Erika

    aadila, since when has the law actually managed to stop nutcases from getting guns?

    What a system we have – right wing media primarily exists to drive the paranoia of their audience. A right wing Supreme Court allows unlimited secret corporate funds to go to right wing politicians. Right wing politicians in Congress in order to keep the flow of unlimited secrete corporate funds cater to special interests rather than what voters want. One special interest with a huge amount of secret corporate cash flowing to it is the NRA – the NRA says that there always must be loopholes for people with mental illness to be able to have guns. Another special interest with a huge amount of secret corporate cash behind it is the anti-tax movement whose primary goal is to virtually eliminate corporate taxes and eliminate progressive taxation in favor of regressive taxation. This goal also entails shrinking government – for example by slashing funding for mental health treatment, education, and other social programs. The decline in education makes people much more vulernable to fall victim to fear driven propaganda. Right wing media (including the NRA) spreads hysteria claiming that even the most basic gun control measure (such as an universal background check to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and people with mental illness) equals the government coming to take your guns and send you to a FEMA concentration camp where a government death panel will decide whether you live or die. People who are clinically paranoid here these right wing media reports and believe that the government really is out to get them. Thanks to no universal background checks they have no problem getting guns. They soon wind up with a bad case of the “Dead” often taking others (generally police officiers who in their minds are there to take their guns and send them to FEMA concentration camps – but sometimes the heavily armed paranoid types take a lot of innocent people with them).

    The pursuit of winning elections through spending vast sums of secret corporate cash and propaganda based upon fear rather than reason is leading to these tragedies. And because of the vast sums of corporate cash driving the propaganda. And the worst part is that a death like this which will serve to drive fear not only among the paranoid Sovereign Citizens but among the police and even the general public scared of being caught in the cross fire is not exposing the flaw in the system. It is showing that their system is working exactly as they want. The right wing corporatists have long believed that there is an acceptable number of deaths as long as they get their way which ultimately means getting more money. That is why they want to give corporations virtual immunity from not only tort liability but also safety regulations. Some dead Sovereign Citizens – or a classroom full of dead children – is merely the cost of doing business for them. Thanks to a virtual lock on the media, gerrymandering in the House (Virginia has voted for President Obama twice and has two Democratic Senators but 8 of 11 House members are Republicans thanks to Republican gerrymandering), and a Supreme Court ruling that allows unlimited secret campaign contrabutions, spending on shadowy negative ads from who knows where one expects to see more and more news items of this type (and more appalling mass shootings as well).

    When 90% of the population support something and Congress refuses to pass it because the 10% has a large sum of cash which they can use to run negative ads against anyone who oppose them or run positive ads in support of them there is something seriously wrong in our system. The increase in “sovereign citizens” getting in shootouts with the police is one manifestation of just how crazy things are getting in these times that we live in.

  • Gregory

    Of course they do, Sam. Just ask any Dungeons and Dragons aficionado….

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Ever notice that Sovereign Citizens, in an attempt to attain some sort of idealistic, absolute freedom, engage in activities which inevitably attract the attention of law enforcement and thus they end up losing all their freedom? I mean is having a real driver’s license really no different than going to jail?

  • concernedcitizen

    These SovCits lead the league in paranoia. On the other hand, if one of them develops a death ray, they’re not as likely to trust an undercover FBI man…

    I disagree they did trust an FBI man and just because they happen to develop a weapon of destruction does not mean they are superior in all forms of intelligence. And a good undercover man can usually weasel his way in.

  • Sam Molloy

    Gregory, words do have mystical, or, supernatural powers when uttered in the correct sequence. These people do not understand the correct sequences and curse their future with their own words.

  • aadila

    Mental illness is a legal prohibition to gun weilding.

  • Aron

    Linnea, I was *this* close to writing that last night.

  • Linnea

    The Fruitcake from Fruita.

  • concernedcitizen

    On July 19, 2011, Pollard wrote on his Facebook page that he was a “Free Man.”

    Well he most certainly is now. And let’s hope that he elects for the educational services on the other side.

    Sovereigns believe that they – not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials – get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore…

    Yes there has been a growth of strange individuals in America who do believe that they are above the law and they do appear to act in groups, I thought it was just organized crime.

    However, it appears that stupid is contagious and they don’t only act out against authority but they believe they have the right to infringe on the civil liberties of others.

    Now I simply must find out if they are more than just racists and if they too subscribe to the sovereign movement.

    And this man was an American Veteran? What in the world was he thinking?

    Sovereigns are clogging up the courts with indecipherable filings and when cornered, many of them lash out in rage, frustration and, in the most extreme cases, acts of deadly violence, usually directed against law enforcement. In May 2010, for example, a father-son team of sovereigns murdered two officers with an assault rifle when they were pulled over on the interstate while traveling through West Memphis, Ark.

    Sounds like a violent group and I hope our officers are intelligent enough to steer clear of them.

  • Kiwiwriter

    They’ll never learn…when a police officer pulls you over, don’t get into gunfight with him.

    Save the whining for Legal Aid and the arraignment, if it gets that far.

    It was a traffic stop…

    These SovCits lead the league in paranoia. On the other hand, if one of them develops a death ray, they’re not as likely to trust an undercover FBI man…

  • Gregory

    Are there any forensic psychiatrists in the group? Serious question, reason for the query to follow.

    It seems to me that there are basicallly two types of sovereigns, those who are doing the grifting and those who are being grifted. The dear departed referenced here sounds as though he belonged in the latter category before he shuffled off this mortal coil.

    Like many SCNJs, his writings and behaviour, to the extent that we can determine from this article, seem to suggest that he believed that words have near mystical powers when uttered in the correct sequence. It is also common for several specific forms of mental illness to hold the same fixation, hence my original question.

    This goes beyond what would be merely considered a correct legal interpretation and plunges into the realm of spells and incantations.