‘Sovereign citizen’ convicted of biting off tip of Knoxville officer’s thumb

Local News

A man prosecutors say is a gang member and a sovereign citizen was convicted Friday of biting off the end of a police officer’s thumb during a traffic stop in 2017.

Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen’s office says Alexander Ray Johnson, 30, was convicted of aggravated assault and two counts of assault.

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

Prosecutors told the jury that on June 14, 2017, Knoxville Police Department Officer Tim Edwards stopped the vehicle Johnson was driving for speeding and not having a license plate. Instead of a valid plate, there was a plate claiming Johnson’s right to travel as a “Sovereign Hebrew Israelite.”

Prosecutors also said Johnson would not provide a valid driver’s license and argued with the officer about whether speeding was a crime.

Officer Trey Lane arrived as a backup officer as Johnson became more hostile. When officers asked Johnson to step out of the car, he refused and began fighting officers, kicking and punching them. During the fight, Johnson bit off the tip of Lane’s thumb, causing what prosecutors say was permanent damage.

Sentencing is set for March 28. Because the jury found Johnson to be a member of the Bloods criminal gang, prosecutors will ask for the maximum sentence of six years in prison.

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