Man claiming to be sovereign citizen dies after chase, pulling gun on state police

Image 1 of 3

A traffic stop by Michigan State Police led to a chase and a deadly shootout Friday.

The suspect was first stopped in Taylor before leading troopers on a chase that ended in Van Buren Township when the suspect died after wounds suffered in a shootout. Police say after the man crashed at Lower Huron Metro Park he took a shooting stance towards Michigan State Police Troopers, leading to gunfire.

It began at about 12:48 p.m. Friday afternoon when the man was stopped for not wearing his seatbelt. The initial traffic stop was at Van Born and Telegraph in Taylor.
Police say the man refused to comply with the troopers saying he was a sovereign citizen.

"I don't know if people are familiar with sovereign citizen," Lt. Mike Shaw of Michigan State Police said. "A lot of them believe they are not required to identify themselves with law-enforcement or they're not really citizens of the United States. We do see quite a bit of this."

The chase went on several routes including I-94 westbound up 100 miles on the interstate and 70 on streets. Police say the chase warranted.

"Absolutely," Shaw said. "Once you take away the seatbelt violation, and troopers made contact with this individual and actually broke his window out to remove his car and he drove away. You can't allow that."

On one of the routes, a trooper injured his hand in a collision with the man as he tried a pit maneuver to stop his vehicle. The chase finally ended shortly after 1 p.m. once the second pit maneuver worked at the corner of E. Huron River and Haggerty in Van Buren Township.

Police say the man ran into the wooded area, took a shooting stance against troopers, leading to gunfire by at least one state trooper.

However, Investigators have not been able to determine if the man fired his gun.

"We won't be able to determine that until the lab comes out here and recovers of the weapon to see what kind of shell casings we have," Shaw said. "A lot of times it won't go into the scene until the lab arrives so nothing is damaged."

This is a tragic ending from what police say could have been a simple citation.

"This is an individual that didn't have his seatbelt on, all he had to do was stop," Shaw said. "He would've have had contact with the trooper. The trooper may or may not have wrote him a citation. Now we have to go tell a family their loved one is dead because of contact with law enforcement."

FOX 2 asked why MSP will be investigating the shooting and not an outside agency.

"Our troopers are investigated by our own department," Shaw said. "We have an outstanding reputation throughout the state. If our troopers do something wrong, we're going to hold them accountable as we would anybody else."

Shaw said Michigan State Police will have this intersection closed off for possibly several more hours, so residents are advised to avoid the area.