July 21, 2011

Man in 'sovereign citizen' group is wounded in shootout

James M. Tesi had several arrest warrants against him resulting from traffic dust-ups.

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During a shootout in a Hurst neighborhood Thursday morning, a Colleyville police officer wounded a man who has declared himself not subject to state or federal law, police said.

Multiple shots were fired by the officer and the man, identified as James M. Tesi, 48.

Tesi was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. On Thursday evening, a Colleyville police spokeswoman said he was "alert and expected to recover."

The 48-year-old officer, identified only as a 26-year veteran of the department, was not injured.

In a Star-Telegram article in April, Tesi identified himself in federal court by numerous names including James Michael Joseph, house of Tesi El.

In court papers, Tesi listed ties to the Moorish National Republic, one of the numerous "sovereign citizen" groups such as the Republic of Texas that claim they are not subject to man-made laws.

On Thursday morning, the Colleyville officer spotted Tesi driving near the Colleyville-Hurst border. Tesi was wanted on arrest warrants for speeding, driving without a license in possession, and failure to appear, so the officer followed him, Colleyville police spokeswoman Mona Gandy said.

In the 600 block of Bear Creek Drive, Tesi pulled into the garage of his house.

"The officer stopped in the street in front of the residence and approached the subject on foot," Gandy said in a news release. "The subject exited his vehicle and pointed a handgun at the officer. In fear of his life, the officer raised his weapon. An exchange of gunfire occurred."

Tesi was wounded once in the face and once in the foot.

"The subject was incapacitated at that point, ceasing his assault," Gandy said. "Backup officers arrived almost immediately."

Hurst police are investigating the shooting, which occurred shortly before 11 a.m.

Tesi faces a charge of attempted capital murder, Hurst police Sgt. Craig Teague said Thursday.

The officer was placed on administrative leave with pay, Gandy said.

In April, Tesi asked a federal court to take jurisdiction of a traffic case because, he said, Colleyville police unlawfully tried to coerce him into showing a driver's license. He said in a federal petition that he is "free to travel" and that he did not give his consent to be detained by police. In a financial statement accompanying his petition, he also said he should not have to pay court fees or "be compelled to fill out any ritualistic forms."

The so-called Moorish Nationals are "aboriginal and indigenous natural peoples of Northwest Amexem" -- a statement most often made by individuals within the movement who claim to be descendants of African slaves.

Tesi, who is white, listed the Moorish National Republic on a financial affidavit, which also bore an image of the unfinished pyramid and the eye of providence, or the all-seeing eye of God, which is on the back of a dollar bill.

Tesi's troubles began in Arlington on Feb. 23, 2010, when he was stopped for driving without a seat belt, according to a police report. He was fined $244.15 but did not pay, so an arrest warrant was issued.

In December, Colleyville police stopped Tesi for speeding on Precinct Line Road. When he would not produce a driver's license, he was arrested on the Arlington warrant.

Staff writer Marty Sabota contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Domingo Ramirez Jr.,


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