A 42-year-old Northern California man accused of planning to kidnap, “convict” and then kill police officers in his own court of law called police “terrorists” Friday night from the Clark County Detention Center.
Police in the United States often commit acts against people that are reminiscent of Nazi Germany or Communist China, he asserted. Their tyranny, he said, is unconstitutional and “endless.”
“They pull people over for frivolous things, then pull you out of your car and search you and handcuff you without warrants,” said David Allan Brutsche, one of two suspects who face charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder in what Las Vegas police are calling a domestic terrorist movement. “They harass people for no reason … even though their job is to apprehend those who are causing injury to somebody else.”
In a 30-minute interview from a holding cell, Brutsche, a six-time felon, delivered lengthy monologues on the U.S. Constitution, principles of individual freedoms and how the country has strayed from such principles.
The time has come for police in the United States to be held accountable for their wrong doings, he repeatedly said.
“They put the terror in people’s hearts every day,” said Brutsche, dressed in blue prison fatigues. “I want people to realize what tyranny we are under.”
Brutsche, a water vendor on the Strip, was arrested at a warehouse on Valley View Drive on Tuesday night with Devon Campbell Newman, 67, a mother and paralegal who moved to Las Vegas from Los Angeles, but is originally from Connecticut.
Police say both are part of “sovereign citizen movement” — a loosely formed group of people about 100,000 strong. They don’t believe in U.S. laws or paying taxes, but mostly they hate police, factors that make them a viable terrorist threat in the eyes of the FBI.
But Brutsche, who has lived in the California communities of Auburn and Sacramento, denied being part of such a movement. He said he started learning about sovereign principles nine months ago. He claimed he was often harassed by Las Vegas police officers while trying to sell water on the Strip, an activity that should be an “inalienable” right, not something Clark County regulates.
That’s where he met Newman. On the Strip in August. She bought water from him and then invited him home to live with her when he told her he had no other place to go.
In a separate interview, she said a pair of undercover officers were the ones who called the meeting in the warehouse where they were arrested. Everybody was supposed to gather and talk about the “persecution” that Brutsche was suffering while selling water on the Strip.
“I didn’t even know I was arrested,” said Newman on Friday, adding that officers handcuffed her and never told her what the charge was.
Brutsche said he didn’t like being in his jail cell. He said it was too small, that the mattress was too thin, and that now he has to eat what he called “poison.”
“Outside,” he said, “I was eating organically. I was losing weight. I was feeling good.”
Earlier Friday, the pair appeared before Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen, who ordered a preliminary hearing to be held in September and set Brutsche’s bail at $600,000.
Brutsche, shackled, wearing restraint gloves over his hands and escorted by two Special Emergency Response Team officers, objected to the authority of the court and rejected the appointment of a public defender.
Hafen ordered Newman, shackled and escorted by a single corrections officer, held without bail pending a hearing Monday. She objected and requested bail.
“I have hurt no one,” she said.
Police, as first reported by the Review-Journal, had been investigating Brutsche and Newman since April.
The pair “expressed a deep hatred” for police and targeted officers for “perceived violations of Constitutional Civil Rights” during traffic stops, the report said.
Brutsche and Newman planned to kidnap a random police officer using a team of “sovereign citizens,” place the officer in a makeshift “jail” and try the officer in their own court, according to police.
After obtaining a “conviction,” the pair planned to execute the officer, the report said.
Las Vegas police aren’t the only ones watching this loosely organized anti-government group who believe they don’t answer to the United States government and its laws but are a sovereign nation.
The FBI, calling the group a “domestic terrorist movement,” has mounted several extensive undercover operations and is focused on disrupting potential violence by its members.
Although many of their offenses seem minor, not paying taxes and creating false license plates and currency, sovereign members killed six police officers from 2000-2011, according to an FBI bulletin for law enforcement.
The group dates back decades with some well-known members, such as Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
In 2010, two Arkansas police officers pulled over sovereign member Jerry Kane and his son, Joseph Kane, during a routine traffic stop. The 16-year-old son jumped out of the car with an AK-47, shooting and killing both officers.
The FBI is being inundated with requests from state and local police departments seeking training on how to handle the group, Supervisory Special Agent Casey Carty said. The FBI predicts that membership will only grow, fueled by the economic downturn and seminars held across the country spreading the ideology.
In June, Brutsche and Newman hosted a sovereign citizen ideology class where they attempted to recruit members, according to Las Vegas police. The early plan called for members to follow officers’ patrol cars and record them on video. If the officer attempted to arrest a person, the sovereign citizens would step in and demand the person’s release, the report said.
If the officer resisted, the members would have to “kill the cop,” their arrest report said. Several undercover detectives attended the class posing as sympathizers.
Last year, a national leader for the group was arrested for his role in a $1.3 million money laundering scheme in Las Vegas.
Authorities described Samuel Davis as a national movement leader who traveled the country teaching its ideology. Davis and another defendant were indicted in March 2009 after a three-year undercover FBI investigation into activities of the sovereign citizens in Las Vegas.
Agents assigned to the Southern Nevada Joint Terrorism Task Force had infiltrated the group, which taught its anti-government leanings to a nationwide following out of a print shop.
Bridget Pappas, spokeswoman for the FBI Las Vegas office, declined to comment Friday on the group’s current presence in Southern Nevada. But they do have a history here and in many other places, from Kansas City, Mo., to Sacramento, where extensive investigations also ended in arrests, according to FBI records.
In this most recent case, undercover Las Vegas detectives met with the suspects about 30 times and secretly recorded hundreds of hours of the conversations, according to a police report.