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Davis Journal

Citizenship entails responsibilities.

Sep 21, 2023 10:04AM ● By Bryan Gray

The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author. 

I received “inside information” from a law enforcement official several weeks ago, so I wasn’t surprised when the county attorney announced last week that the death of a young man in Farmington was justified police action. I don’t know why there was a two-month delay in issuing the ruling; just chalk it up to the slow grind of justice, comparable to actually seeing a doctor regardless of your appointment time. 

The police incident began with a simple traffic stop which should have resulted in a misdemeanor fine. The driver, a young man in his early 20s, was driving a car without a license plate. Instead, the plate area contained a placard claiming that the driver had “constitutional sovereignty”.

When stopped, the young man refused to roll down his window more than a few inches, then refused to hand over identification, telling the Farmington police officer that as a “sovereign citizen” he didn’t need to comply.

Oh, and the driver had a gun in a holster, and, during a scuffle in which the officer opened the car door, the driver reached for the gun.

The investigation by the county attorney validated the incident report by the police. It also noted that the gun was loaded.

As I wrote earlier this year, the culprit was not the police officer who pulled the driver over or any of the other officers later called to the scene. The real culprit was the driver’s flirtation with the “sovereignty” complex – a right-wing conspiracy concept repeatedly struck down by numerous state and federal courts.

These followers despise the federal government, believe state governments have no jurisdiction over them, claim they are free from taxation and are not required to obey traffic laws which limit their constitutional right to travel freely.  They see themselves as patriots; others would call them illiterate freeloaders.

Citizenship entails responsibilities. Federal and state constitutions and local laws and ordinances contain a host of requirements from income and property taxes to valid license plates and driver’s licenses to pet permits.

Life comes with a short instruction manual including the simple idea that we comply with lawful orders from a law enforcement officer. If you feel that the officer went beyond his legal duty, file a complaint, or seek an attorney, but don’t refuse to stop your vehicle, answer questions, or show personal identification. And certainly, don’t put your hand on a loaded weapon within several feet of a cop.

As noted when it happened, the death resulted from a man raised in a home full of anti-government flim-flam who baited a young policeman simply wanting to fulfill his duties, return home after his shift, and get a good night’s rest.

The county attorney’s ruling, which came after detailed viewing of police bodycam footage, is not a whitewash of improper police behavior. What it shows is that tragedy can occur when radicals pursue a delusional understanding of the Constitution.