Farmington PD video sheds light on deadly shooting of apparent ‘sovereign citizen’
FARMINGTON — The fatal shooting by Farmington police of a motorist pulled over due to lack of car registration followed a tense exchange during which the man, Chase Allan, refused to cooperate with responding officers.
He maintained that he did not have to submit to their authority, leading the officers — five ultimately arrived on the scene — to try to forcibly remove him from the car. On seeing a gun, an officer shouted out — “Gun, gun, gun, gun, gun, gun, gun!” — prompting the officers to take a few steps back and start firing, Allan still seated in the auto.
Allan was wearing a holster around his waist, it turns out, and in the aftermath of the gunfire, a gun is visible on the floor of the driver’s side of the car, according to police body camera video footage released Wednesday.
“We were opening the car door, trying to yank him out of there, and he started going for his gun, so we … I actually dived in to try and stop him but jumped out because he was able to get it out,” one officer said in video immediately after the incident, speaking to another officer. He said he thought Allan was a “sovereign citizen,” a phrase used, broadly speaking, for people who are variously antigovernment or don’t believe the U.S. government is legitimate.
The quick, deadly exchange, which occurred last week on March 1, is captured on footage from body cameras the officers wore, and Farmington Police Chief Eric Johnsen on Wednesday released the video to the media. He has not interviewed the five officers involved — the Davis County Critical Incident Protocol Team is handling the formal probe, which continues — and emphasized that the video is only “one piece of information” about the incident.
Many people are asking questions about what happened, though, and Johnsen said he released the video in the name of transparency. Police had already said Allan had a gun and that he did not heed their orders, but the video provides more detail about what transpired, even if other questions remain unanswered. “We’re anxious to put out what we know and what we can say,” Johnsen said.
Allan, 25, was pronounced dead after being taken to a local hospital. The incident last week happened in the parking lot of the U.S. Postal Service office in Farmington at 145 E. State St., where Allan stopped after an officer pulled him over.
A makeshift memorial to Allan has sprouted at the base of a tree near the location. “Executed by Farmington Police on 3/01/2023 for the heinous crime of no license plate,” reads the wording on a photo of Allan at the site.
‘I DON’T ANSWER QUESTIONS’
The video conveys the exchange between the initial responding officer — none involved have been publicly named — and Allan. He had been pulled over, apparently, after the officer, driving behind him, saw he didn’t have a license plate on his car, a blue BMW.
Rather, he had what Johnsen called a “placard” featuring a flag with 13 red and white vertical stripes and what appears to be a U.S. presidential seal.
In the post office parking lot, the initial officer approaches Allan, still seated in his car, to explain the situation, that he’s been pulled over for driving without car registration. Allan rebuffs the officer, citing apparent sovereign ideology that he does not have to abide by government dictates, leading to the final deadly incident.
“I don’t need registration and I don’t answer questions,” Allan tells the officer, according to body camera footage.
“Alrighty,” answers the officer. He then makes a request via his radio to dispatchers: “Can you have a couple more head my way?”
The officer asks Allan for identification, tells him he’s “detained” and must stay. “Are you going to provide me your identification?” asks the officer.
“I don’t answer questions,” Allan responds through the partially open driver’s side window.
“OK, so I’m going to take that as a no, that you’re not going to provide me your identification. Is that the route we’re going? Or would you like to provide your identification to me and we can have a conversation? We can discuss the laws that you’re breaking and then we can go from there,” says the officer.
“If you want my identification, you’ll be under duress and you accept surety and trusteeship over it. And then you will be responsible for any debts that you’re trying to incur here,” Allan says.
“OK, so I’m not trying to incur any debts or anything. I’m trying to investigate why your vehicle doesn’t have any registration,” says the officer.
Allan reads the apparent code number of a law and reiterates his protests. “You are trying to incur debt and legal action for something that is not allowed, and under title 18 section 245, traveling is a federally protected activity,” Allan says.
“I understand what you’re saying. I understand what you’re saying. And what I’m telling you is that you do not have an option to identify yourself,” Allan says.
The officer tells Allan he’s “lawfully required” to identify himself. “You can provide your identification to me and we can have a conversation about the laws that you’ve broken or you can fail to identify to me and we can go that route too,” the officer says. “I’m perfectly OK with either way you want to go. But the direction this encounter goes is 100% in your hands.”
“Sir,” Allan answers, “Utah code, United States code is the corporate policy in which you have to be contracted into to be required to follow it. Unless you can provide me a contract with my (unintelligible) signature on it saying that I’m required to follow it, then there’s no way I’m obligated (unintelligible).”
“So do you want to identify yourself to me or do you want to go a different route?” the officer says.
Ultimately, Allan pulls out a U.S. passport and the officer asks to see it.
“If I hand this to you, accept trusteeship and surety …,” Allan says. For at least a portion of the video, Allan is holding his own smart phone, as if he’s filming the encounter from his perspective.
“Sure, I’ll accept trusteeship if you’ll just hand me the document so I can identify who you are because you’re required by state law,” the officer answers.
Allan hands over the passport.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Chase Allan,” says the officer.
“That is not me. That is a piece of plastic paper,” Allan answers
“So you have a fraudulent passport? Wonderful,” says the officer.
“No, that’s a piece of paper,” Allan answers.
The officer subsequently asks Allan to step out of the car, but Allan refuses. “Sir, step out of the car right now,” the officer says.
By now, more officers are on the scene and another one addresses Allan. “If you don’t step out of the car, we’re going to break the window and pull you out. Step out of the car,” he says.
An officer opens the door, another leans in the auto to pull Allan out when someone shouts out about the presence of a gun. The officers step back, including the officer reaching into the car, and gunfire erupts, perhaps 15 to 20 rounds, judging by the gunshot sounds.
“Cease fire, cease fire, cease fire!” someone shouts, and the shooting dies down. The officers pull Allan from the car, lay him on the ground and cuff him. Seeing his condition, they take the cuffs off and render aid before the arrival of paramedics and other officers.
As they’re helping Allan, laying on the ground, the officers talk amongst themselves.
“Is everybody good?” says one.
“Yeah. Did anybody get hit?” says another
“No. Did he shoot?” says a third
“I don’t have any (expletive) idea,” someone answers.
The gunfire lasted only “a couple seconds,” Johnsen said at Wednesday’s press conference.
‘A REALLY TRAGIC DIRECTION’
Four of the officers involved in the incident have been on the Farmington police force for eight months or less while the fifth is a 12-year veteran, Johnsen said. All fired their guns in the incident and all are on paid leave pending the outcome of the formal probe, as is routine.
Allan and his mom Diane Killian-Allan had had run-ins with local authorities before last week’s incident, expressing their apparent “sovereign citizen” beliefs. Johnsen, though, said he didn’t think any of the officers were aware of their beliefs or familiar with them.
“I see (police) deal with (Allan) professionally, even feel cool calm and collected temperament and unfortunately then I see things go a really tragic direction,” Johnsen said.
He wouldn’t weigh in on whether he thinks the officers were justified in their actions, saying that’s the responsibility of investigators. But he addressed the scenarios, generally speaking, when officers may turn to deadly force.
“Officers are trained to respond using deadly force when there’s an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death … to them or anyone other than the suspect,” he said. “And what I see on that video is officers not responding to someone that just has a gun in a holster.”
Johnsen said Bountiful Police Department officials, not Farmington police, are assigned to serve as liaisons to Allan’s family. However, he understands officials have tried to reach out to the man’s family to give them the opportunity to view the body camera footage but not gotten any response.