Knoxville police: ‘Sovereign citizen’ bit off end of officer’s thumb

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A suspect who claims to be a Sovereign Hebrew Israelite citizen is charged with biting off the end of a police officer’s thumb and injuring another officer’s leg.

Alexander Ray Johnson, 29, is currently being held on traffic charges, but charges of aggravated assault and resisting arrest are pending.

The Knoxville Police Department says two officers were conducting traffic enforcement on Woodbine Avenue around 1:15 p.m. Residents had asked for help to slow down cars in their neighborhood. The officers spotted an Acura MDX going 12 miles over the speed limit. The officers stopped the vehicle at the intersection with Milligan Street, but the driver, identified as Johnson, would not comply with the officers.

Police say the car had no legal license plate, only a Sovereign Hebrew Israelite sign. While they tried to arrest the suspect, he began fighting the officers and bit off the end of Officer Trey Lane’s thumb. Officer Tim Edwards also suffered a leg injury in the fight.

Johnson was eventually detained and is being held in the Knox County Detention Center. Both officers were taken to the hospital for their injuries. Johnson was not hurt.

A passenger in the vehicle was taken in for questioning but is not expected to be charged.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says members of the sovereign citizen moment share a belief sytem that rejects the concept of Us citizenship and governmental authority. Their ideology often based on their own interpretation of historical documents fundamental to American history and common law

In February 2017, 10 people who are considered sovereign citizens were arrested in Anderson, Knox, Cocke and Greene counties and charged with and charged with more than 300 counts in what the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation calls a fraudulent lien scheme. TBI says city and county mayors, sheriffs, judges, attorneys, police officers and other government and law enforcement officials were the targets of the scheme and appear to have been targeted solely because of their positions.

Related: 10 arrested in East Tenn. fraudulent lien scheme

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