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.