The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Jury Convicts Texas ‘Sovereign’ Who Shot at Cop

By Bill Morlin on February 1, 2012 - 3:10 pm, Posted in Sovereign Citizens

UPDATE 2.2.12: The jury sentenced James Michael Tesi to 35 years in prison.

A self-described “sovereign citizen,” who also called himself a “Moorish American,” has been convicted in Fort Worth, Texas, of shooting at a police officer who tried to arrest him for traffic violations last summer.

James Michael Tesi, 49, was taken into custody following the jury verdict Tuesday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. The 12-member jury immediately began the penalty phase. Tesi faces up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Tesi, an occupational therapist, was charged with aggravated assault on a public servant with a deadly weapon. The charge stems from a series of encounters he had with police for not wearing a seat belt, speeding, failing to show up in court and not producing a valid driver’s licenses.

Like growing numbers of  sovereign citizens, Tesi apparently believed state and federal laws don’t apply to him.

A recent FBI report labeled sovereign citizens the most significant domestic terrorism threat, and a particularly dangerous one for law enforcement. “Law enforcement and judicial officials must understand the sovereign-citizen movement, be able to identify indicators, and know how to protect themselves from the group’s threatening tactics,” the report said.

The Fort Worth shooting is just the latest in a growing list of encounters between police and sovereigns. In May 2010, two West Memphis, Ark., officers were shot dead when they stopped a father-son team of sovereigns.

When Officer John Fossett saw Tesi driving last July 21 in the Fort Worth suburb of Hurst, the officer knew there was a warrant for his arrest and followed the fugitive to his home. After parking his vehicle in his garage, Tesi came out firing a weapon. The uniformed police officer returned fire, wounding Tesi in the face and leg. The officer was unharmed.

During the five-day trial, defense attorney Ronald Hardin attempted to cast doubt on the police version of the shooting. In closing arguments, he urged jurors to concentrate on physical evidence and said the police officer gave three versions of what occurred. His client, meanwhile, feared for his life. “He knows in his mind that officer Fossett is there to kill him” because of his beliefs, the defense attorney said.

After being shot in the exchange of gunfire, Tesi said, “If I’m going to die, I wanted to die at home,” Hardin told the jury.

But the jury didn’t buy the defense’s explanation and apparently agreed with the prosecutor, who said that Tesi did not shoot in self-defense. “You don’t get to intentionally evade an officer, send threats to the city or pull a gun on an officer,” Tarrant County prosecutor Jim Hudson told the jury. “Mr. Tesi is not on trial for his beliefs.”

  • D

    The extreme filth in Texas might just yet produce the most exquisite flowers.

    While the Good Ol Boys parade their intentions for all to see and avoid, the real powers work behind the scenes to let these cannibals devour eachother when the SHTF.

    Texas will consume itself in massive racial violence.

    Get the fuck out if you have a chance.

  • Patricia Riley

    Moderate Mike:

    You are rather biased and devoid of any knowledge of the facts of this case. Did you attend the trial as I did. Did you read the multiple written reports of the events of the case as told by officer Fossett. Did you exam the wounds of James Tesi, and what is your background in emergency medicine or oral-facial surgery. Your knowledge of the facts of this case are non-existent, so please refrain from uninformed comment, as you expose yourself to be quite the fool. Texas is known throughout the USA as home to some of the most corrupt police and politicians, and poorly educated populace. This case serves to confirm this long held believe system.

    Sources: I attended the trial and took short hand notes, much like the court reporter. Plus I had access to certain legal documents.

  • Aron


    Care to provide us with your sources? If I feel they are valid, I am more than happy to modify my understanding of the case to fit what may have actually happened.

  • Yul Grant

    I do agree, however with your conclusions that the basis of this, the whole case against Doctor Tesi IS speculation. When an officers tale, even reflected in the media is altered 3 times you start to see just how much is speculation. Indeed for this to hold up in court at the end of that rainbow there very likely could be conspiracy as you suggest. It could be simple ignorance as well. Even the quotes given to the media to jade them against Dr. Tesi is taken out of context, endorsing the whole labeling aspect. The exact words used to portray him within the text of one of the articles is “thug” he is not addressed as Doctor and this 130# 5,3″ thugs biggest mistake was using a vocabulary his accusers could not even spell, let alone understand. The intention was to display the good doctor this way. Speculation is the entire reason this case is so flawed. One of the other bloggers addressing this in Denton reflected the shock at the portrayal of their professor this way, a relevant youtube video by someone who apparently was in the courtroom also expressed anger over the degree of speculation and its inconsistency (it took 3 versions of the story to get one feasible enough to work in court) this is reflected in the press as well. Evolved from Tesi fired first to Tesi drew his gun first to the officer didnt recall who shot first. More speculation on the part of the officer.

  • Yul Grant

    Speculation was the basis of the case, the facts are that bias was produced by raking a man across the coals of political belief and ethnic status. That is the basis for a lynching not a trial. The Facts other than word against word, without any web cam available and just one cop beyond jurisdiction pursuing a renegade “no seatbelt” wearer (fact), shooting this Doctorate level clinician within his own garage twice with the speculation he had a gun and returned fire (final version indicated by the officer who had chased him). A professor in a criminology program in Israel has chosen to use this case to illustrate how media can distort the character of a professional and how despite multiple versions of a repeatedly modified story based on “speculation” an American can still be found guilty. Fact, multiple law enforcement officers who reside in TX have apparently posted here and are the least objective source of commentary based on “biased speculation” and what those of us who have studied criminology at some level understand a “labeling” . Mosser

  • Aron


    Those aren’t facts. They’re speculation.

    But keep reaching for that conspiratorial rainbow!

  • Yul Grant

    Amazing they have portrayed the good Doctor Tesi as a thug… examine these facts.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Moors on the Moon? Sounds like a 19th-century science fiction novel.

  • Sam Molloy

    They could all move to the Moon Colony. A treaty was rushed through when we thought the Russians might beat us there that says it can not be claimed by any country.

  • Donald

    Actually, the Moorish groups of sovereign citizens are not right wingers or even new. They spun out of the Moorish Science Temple, founded by the son of former slaves in the first part of the 20th century. They use a bastardized form of Islam that is repudiated by mainstream Islam.

  • Ithink

    Shadow Wolf said,
    on February 1st, 2012 at 3:40 pm
    I have always been a bit perplexed what these lunatics are “citizens” of? “Citizens” of what? Native Americans have “Sovereign” Native Tribes. Therefore, we are still “citizens” of the U.S. Do these violent anti-government extremists, have a governing body to establish some kind of citizenship?

    -Actually, this a fairly recent phenomenon in on the fringe of American politics, their typical radical rightists who take many of the platforms of today’s Republican Party and take them to their most implausible, reactionary extremes. You can read more about them at the link and in John Amato & David Neiwart’s “Over the Cliff: How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane”, where they catalogue the many incidents involving the movement’s members since the 2008 election. You can slo do a search at their Crooks & Liars blog on them, but be forewarned, you may feel like your peering into a real-life version of The Hills Have Eyes or The Sixth Sense when you read the stories. Its sad that many don’t realize or want to accept that the biggest threat to the U.S. in terms of terrorism are the homegrown radicals that look like everyday Americans, and not Islamic fundamentalists…

  • ModerateMike


    Let me get this straight: Officer Fossett mistook Tesi’s cell phone for a gun while he had it to his ear (you said he was in a conversation), and shot him twice. Next, despite his wounds, Tesi was still able to get to his car, pull out his own gun, and fire at the officer before the officer (whose gun was already out and pointed at Tesi) could even respond.

    Time to hone those critical thinking skills, Patricia.

  • Shadow Wolf

    Patricia brings up a good point. I’m actually flabbergasted on why our very own “corrupt cop” is still running his infamous law agency(MCSO). I’m referring to Sheriff Joe. Even after the Dept.of Justice’s report states his agency has the worst case of racial profiling in the Nation. He is allowed to continue to instill a culture of bias into his policing policies. I don’t think this Justice System is the “American Way”. But rather the Republican Way.

  • Aron

    Hey Patricia,

    Care to provide any ‘evidence’ to back up your ‘facts?’ Unless I’m mistaken, I kinda think that’s how the American Justice System works…

  • Patricia Riley

    The physical evidence was clear. Officer Fossett admitted to perjury, stating his signed affidavit account of the events were not truthful, but his account of events 7 months post incident, related during the trial, were the truth. Physical evidence as reviewed by fellow police officers/crime scene investigators demonstrated that Fossett’s version of events were absolutely unbelievable and without merit, conflicting directly with the physical evidence and versions observed by the only witness to the incident. Fossett entered the driveway of a American and shot Tesi, without notice and provocation. Tesi was shown to be holding a cellular phone in his hand and not a gun at the time of the shooting. Independent investigators recommend that officer Fossett be charged with attempted murder. The jury in this case focused on letters written by Tesi, having absolutely no bearing on the facts of the case. Facts, Fosssett pursued Tesi onto Tesi’s property. Fact, Police Chief Brown testified that pursuit did not elevate to an evasion status and that Fossett was incorrect in labeling it as such. Fac:s Fossett could not legally enter Tesi’s Land Patented property for only a class C misdemeanor offense. Fact : Fossett shot Tesi, while Tesi was holding a cell phone to his ear engaged in a conversation. Fact: Once shot in the leg and face, Tesi, retrieved a hand gun from his vehicle and shot in the vicinity of Fossett in an attempt to keep Officer Fossett from closing in and killing him.

    Fact: 2 days before the trail Hurst Police pulled over attorneys for Tesi, place one on his knees, handcuffed them, arrested them, placed a rifle at one attorneys head and threatened them regarding the case. This issue is now being investigated by the FBI and law suites against the Hurst Police and city have or will be filed.

    Fact: one day prior to defense case beginning, a key witness to the events of the case, offering testimony directly refuting the events as described by Fossett, was hospitalized for attempted suicide (coincidence or given the police departments history of intimidation was it more insidious). Events of this case are also being investigated.

    Police have have integral role in society and civilization, however, corrupt and bad cops can not be tolerated. Equal treatment under the law is a pillar of our Bill of Rights. Why should police be exempt from the very laws they take an oath to protect and uphold.

  • Reynardine

    What the Hell is a Moorish American? And how long until Jason Smith comes along and goes on an irrelevant peroration about Tesi not being an Aryan?

  • Shadow Wolf

    I have always been a bit perplexed what these lunatics are “citizens” of? “Citizens” of what? Native Americans have “Sovereign” Native Tribes. Therefore, we are still “citizens” of the U.S. Do these violent anti-government extremists, have a governing body to establish some kind of citizenship?

  • Aron

    Damn. Where’s Superman when you really need him?