The shooting of the 25-year-old by police in Farmington draws attention to the “sovereign citizens” movement, although any connection is unclear
The car Chase Allan was driving last Wednesday caught the eye of an officer, Farmington Police say, because it did not have a valid license plate.
Instead, as news footage shows, it carried a placard stating a well-known symbol “sovereign citizen”. – Part of a flag, with blue stars and red and white stripes – along with the words “Utah, American State Citizen” and “Notice, Private Automobile Not For Hire”.
It’s unclear if the officer recognized the symbol on the placard before a routine traffic stop ended with five officers shooting at Allan, killing the 25-year-old, Farmington Police Chief Eric Johnsen said.
“All I can tell you is that none of us are experts on these things,” Johnsen told The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday. “I mean, I’m a 20-year-old officer and literally in the thousands of traffic stops I’ve done in my career — thousands — I’ve only come across a few people who are so connected.”
It’s not yet clear if Allan explicitly considered himself part of the “sovereign citizen” movement, but the poster has highlighted the loose network of extremists who oppose government and law enforcement. The FBI considers sovereign citizens a domestic terrorist movement and notes that supporters routinely put false license plates on vehicles.
A statement from Allan’s family, who have accused police of his “brutal murder,” said Allan “spent the last few years studying law and was a patriot who did whatever it took to defend the freedom and liberty of the people in his community.” “. She did not name the sovereign citizens’ movement.
However, court documents show Allan was physically removed from courtrooms last year, where he attempted to intervene on behalf of his mother and later another woman. According to court documents, he refused a judge’s order to sit down, demanding, “Do you commit slavery and involuntary servitude?”
After Allan was pulled over on Wednesday, he refused to get out of his car and “asserted his independence from the laws of the country,” Farmington Police said. The first officer called for reinforcements and four other officers responded. As they attempted to remove Allan from the car, an officer yelled that Allan had a gun and the five officers opened fire.
A handgun was found on the floor of his car, police said, and a holster on his hip was empty, although it’s unclear if Allan ever brandished the gun or opened fire. He was taken to a hospital where he died.
If Allan has been linked to the sovereign citizens’ movement, that’s not why officials fired, Johnsen told The Tribune on Monday.
One of his few encounters with people who seemed to share similar beliefs, the Chief noted, was with Allan’s mother. She did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.
What is the Sovereign Citizens’ Movement?
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the loosely organized sovereign citizens’ movement has embraced a “far-right anarchist ideology”. People associated with it believe that “virtually all existing governments” in the US are illegitimate, and they are trying to “recreate” an idealized, minimalistic government that never really existed,” the league says.
Sovereign citizens “wage war on the government…using ‘paper terrorism’ harassment and intimidation tactics,” the League notes.
Occasionally, such individuals resort to violence, according to the ADL. In Nevada in 2014, a couple later found to be associated with the sovereign citizens’ movement ambushed two Las Vegas officers who were having lunch at a Cicis Pizza, killing both.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the sovereign citizens’ movement as a hate group rooted in racism and anti-Semitism. The movement’s members “believe that they fall outside the jurisdiction of the federal government and consider themselves exempt from US law,” says the nonprofit legal advocacy organization.
Allan was not known to have been associated with sovereign citizen groups, according to both the Utah Attorney’s Office and the Utah Department of Public Safety.
His only record with the DPS was from a previous traffic stop, and there is no indication that he claimed at the time that he was not subject to “the laws of the country,” a DPS official said Monday.
His mother’s traffic control
It is also unclear whether Allan’s mother, Diane Killian-Allan, joins the sovereign citizens’ movement.
But during the April 2022 traffic stop that Johnsen recalled, she contested an officer’s right to stop or summon her and refused to give her date of birth, court filings say.
The officer stopped her because her license plate number had expired. Through the traffic stop process, the officer learned that Killian-Allan’s driver’s license had also expired and that her car was uninsured, as required by law.
The officer called for backup, and then – Lt. Johnsen responded to help the “fairly new officer,” telling him, as he recalled to The Tribune, “Hey, listen. They won’t answer you. … If her license plate has expired and you want to issue a subpoena, then issue it to her. Don’t even ask them to sign it. She won’t sign it.”
“Just explain it to her and then stick the quote through her window and tell her to have a nice day,” Johnsen recalled telling the officer. “And that’s essentially what he did.”
Later that day, Killian-Allan showed up at the Farmington Police Department to protest the ticket. According to a federal lawsuit she filed later in September, Johnsen told her that if she didn’t register her car, her car would be impounded.
In a court filing, Killian-Allan claimed her son replied, “That is a threat.” She also said, “Johnsen has been informed that such comments are a declaration of war,” although it’s unclear who she believes made that statement to Johnsen has submitted.
Although Johnsen remembered the traffic stop, he said he didn’t otherwise remember much about Chase Allan or his mother.
In September, Killian-Allan left her trial, claiming the court did not have jurisdiction over her. A judge found her guilty and fined her $100, according to court documents.
Disturbing in court
After Allan claimed to be his mother’s “counsel” (sic) at a hearing in August 2022, her lawsuit pointed out that the judge ordered him to sit in the stands because he was not a licensed attorney.
When Allan refused, the judge told him that if he didn’t comply, he would be removed from the courtroom. Allan then asked, “Do you commit slavery and involuntary servitude?” and again refused to sit in the gallery, according to a file from his mother’s lawsuit.
At that point, according to the filing, “two deputies then drugged him out of the courtroom against his will” and locked the door to keep him out.
The next month, in a separate case, Allan “voluntarily” appeared at a hearing in a Davis County Judicial Court on behalf of a woman who, according to a court document, had been charged with a traffic violation.
During the hearing, Allan “became disruptive and noncompliant” and “began to defy officers,” according to a probable cause statement filed in connection with his arrest that day. When ordered to leave the courtroom, he “refused to obey.”
A deputy from the Davis County Sheriff’s Office wrote at the time that they used “reasonable force” to arrest Allan and took him to the Davis County Jail. When questioned, Allan refused several requests for identification.
“If you are asked to stop interrupting, [Allan] responded that MPs had no authority over him and used an expletive,” the statement on probable cause said.
No charges were brought against Allan after his release.
The police aren’t after Allan, says the chief
In their statement last week, Allan’s family questioned the police report that the stop was routine. They claimed, without citing the source of their information, that the officer who pulled Allan over “called several other officers to the crime scene a few blocks before the stop.”
Johnsen on Monday denied the family’s account, explaining that the first officer only called for assistance after Allan became “non-compliant,” police had previously said. Johnsen also said the first officer didn’t know who he was stopping.
Given that the mother and son allegedly refused to register their vehicles, Johnsen argued officers could have sat “down the street from their home every day” and consistently stopped or summoned them if they wanted to attack them.
“That’s not how we work,” he said. “We’re not. And so the claim that we did that is really hard to swallow.”
On Friday, Farmington Police Department said in a news release that authorities had reviewed body camera footage from the police shooting, which Davis County’s Critical Incident Protocol team is continuing to investigate. As of Monday, the body camera footage had not been released to the public.
Unlike the Salt Lake City Police Department, the Farmington Police Department does not have a policy requiring body camera footage to be released to the public within 10 business days of a police shooting, but the police chief expects his department to release the video “within” published in this time frame.
Allan’s family said the 25-year-old lives at home with his parents and described the Davis High School and Utah State University graduate as “son, brother, grandson, nephew, colleague, teammate, student and neighbor among many other important roles, that he played in our community.”
Wednesday’s police shooting was the fourth police shooting this year in Utah, according to a database maintained by The Salt Lake Tribune. The five officers who opened fire on Allan have been placed on administrative leave pending the ongoing investigation.
https://www.sltrib.com/news/2023/03/07/farmington-police-shooting-25-year/ The shooting of the 25-year-old by police in Farmington draws attention to the “sovereign citizens” movement, although any connection is unclear