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Sovereign citizen shoots, wounds 2 Fla. deputies before fatal OIS

The shooting occurred when the man, who identified as a Moorish sovereign citizen, resisted a deputy who asked him to leave a closed public park

By Joanna Putman

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Two deputies with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office are in the ICU after being shot by a sovereign citizen who was killed when backup deputies returned fire, reported.

On April 27, a deputy encountered a man in a public park after closing time, according to the report. The deputy approached the man’s vehicle and asked him why he was in the park after closing. He refused to cooperate with the officer and would not leave the park, Sheriff Grady Judd stated in a news conference.

“At this point, he’s resisting a law enforcement officer in the performance of their duty,” Judd said. “He’s also violating a county ordinance.”

The deputy who initially started speaking with the man then returned to her vehicle and called for backup, according to the report. Other deputies soon arrived, including Lt. Chad Anderson and Deputy Craig Smith.

“Little did they realize at that moment in time that this was a sovereign citizen,” Judd stated in the news conference. “He was Moorish, and Moorish sovereign citizens are known to believe that federal law, state law, local law does not apply to them. They are known to resist law enforcement and there is a history where they shoot police officers. So, they started trying to take our suspect out of the vehicle when he produced the gun and started shooting.”

Anderson was shot in the arm, with the bullet then entering his chest, while Smith suffered four gunshot wounds, according to the report.

“Lt. Anderson got some rounds off,” Judd said. “The backup deputies shot a lot, and we killed the suspect. We killed him graveyard dead in a firefight with our deputies.”

At the time of the news conference, Anderson had undergone emergency surgery and was in critical but stable condition, while Smith was in stable condition, according to the report.

The threat to officer safety posed by sovereign citizens is well-known. Here’s five responses to a sovereign citizen at a traffic stop:

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