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

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (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.

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