A sovereign citizen who shot and wounded two police officers is going to federal prison for almost 30 years after a federal judge in California took the unusual step of enhancing his sentence for lying during and after his jury trial.
But even as he was sentenced to 355 months in prison last week in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, Brent Douglas Cole continued disrupting court proceedings -- apparently demonstrating the belief of sovereign-citizens that they are exempt from laws of the land, taxes, licensing and the country’s courts system.
“Don’t interrupt me again,” Senior U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr., told Cole, after being interrupted repeatedly. “I’m ruling. You’re done.”
Cole was found guilty by a federal jury in February of shooting and wounding Bureau of Land Management ranger Tad Pultorak and California Highway Patrol Officer Brant Hardin during a shoot-out on June 14, 2014.
The officers were confronted by the armed sovereign citizen as they were removing two motorcycles from an illegal campsite in a remote area near the South Yuba River campground, near Nevada City, a few miles west of Lake Tahoe and the California-Nevada border.
After firing all his ammunition and being shot several times, Cole surrendered and was arrested, court papers say. The two wounded officers were treated and released, while Cole was hospitalized briefly before recovering from his wounds.
At trial, Cole testified that he did not draw his weapon until the officers began shooting at him first, and that his actions were in self-defense – testimony that directly contradicted that of the two wounded officers.
Since his conviction, Cole has continued to say that he acted in self-defense, that Ranger Pultorak “gut shot” him first after earlier threatening him during a traffic stop.
Federal prosecutors, who said the jury’s verdict was a clear rejection of Cole testimony as being neither true nor credible, asked for the sentencing enhancement because of the defendant’s perjurious testimony.
The judge agreed.
“I find by a preponderance of the evidence that [Cole] testified falsely at trial,” the judge said in a written order. “Further, I find by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant’s false testimony was material in that, if believed, it would have affected the jury’s determination of his guilt, and that it was willful … not the result of confusion, mistake, or faulty memory.”
The judge further ruled that Cole “has willfully continued to present his false version of events to me in an attempt to influence his sentencing, and that the false information ... would tend to affect the defendant’s sentence.”
In court, the judge said Cole “has repeatedly demonstrated that he lacks remorse and has no respect for the law,” the Sacramento Bee reported.
“He has a stunning lack of regard for anyone other than himself,” the judge said. “I opine that the defendant has concocted a fanciful story about law enforcement officials to get his conviction overturned.”
The judge sentenced Cole to 235 months on each of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, charges related to shooting the two officers. He was sentenced to 120 months, to be served consecutively, for the third count of discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.