'Sovereign citizen' charged for wrestling officers during step-son's traffic stop

Derrick Berry, 38, thinks he has right to kill cop

INDIANAPOLIS - Derrick Berry -- who calls himself a sovereign citizen -- faces a number of criminal charges after police say he interfered in his son's traffic stop.

"Sovereign citizens" believe that government has no right to tax them or issue licenses, and they don't believe in the statutory authority of the police or courts.

Before his arrest, Metro police issued an officer safety bulletin warning that Berry believes he has the supreme authority to kill a police officer.

In the court wing of the City-County Building -- where Berry made his first court appearance Friday -- the sheriff increased the number of deputies in the hallways, putting at least eight additional deputies in the courtroom itself.

The show of force was put on for 38-year-old Berry, charged with violently interfering in a traffic stop of his step-son.

According to police, the altercation occurred Nov. 7 at 26th Street and Sherman Drive. When Berry arrived at the scene, his step-son allegedly told officers, "Oh no, here comes my step-dad and he hates the police."

"I just quoted the law, and it upsets them when you tell them their job," Berry said. "By them not knowing their job, they get upset when someone knows their job better than they do."

Police allege that Berry cursed them and then wrestled with the officers. Police confiscated two loaded handguns and 48 rounds of ammunition.

"I have the same two weapons on me. I have the same two clips in my pocket," Berry said. "So, for them to say I came to the scene ready for a war with the police, that wasn't the issue at all."

In the past decade, the "sovereign citizens" movement has been blamed for the murders of dozens of police officers. Investigators say when cornered, they lash out with rage and violence.

"It's a movement we're very concerned about," said Capt. Mike Hubbs with the sheriff's office. "Every time he's encountered a police officer, there's been violence. So we take that seriously, IMPD takes it seriously. The sheriff takes it seriously. And moving forward, we're prepared to take actions of protecting the police officers and the citizens."

Police say Berry spent an extra 36 hours at the arrestee processing center because he refused 25 separate commands to submit to the booking procedure.

He's already filed three separate lawsuits, one of which threatens a judge with treason.

Within days of his arrest, state police conducted an emergency hearing to revoke Berry's license to carry a firearm.

The Call 6 Investigators have been following the "sovereign citizens" movement for the past two years, digging through state and federal records to prove they have special rights.

Sheila Amos, who runs the TM & J Youth Foundation, is a self-proclaimed sovereign citizen.

Amos is part of a movement in which some members believe they're entitled to create their own deeds and take over vacant properties.

The Marion County Prosecutor's Office said Amos and notary Beverly Cannedy then try to sell the homes, misleading dozens of families.

Joseph and Stacey Satterfield were victimized when they purchased a vacant house from the TM & J foundation and then learned the group didn't own the house and had no right to sell it. 

"We officially found out we are squatters," Joseph Satterfield said. "This is not our home. We are not supposed to be here." 

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks what it calls extremist groups, estimates there are 300,000 sovereign's nationwide.
 
Many of them, as seen in Indiana, also  create their own license plates and IDs with badges, and believe they're exempt from taxes, traffic tickets and mortgages. 
 
"That is why they are considered by federal, state and local authorities as potential terrorists," said U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett. "We deal with them as such."
 
The Joint Terrorism Task Force in Indianapolis investigates sovereign activity.

"In an era of post 9-11, you can never be too careful when someone who openly recognizes no authority above their own is behaving and conducting themselves in this way," Hogsett said.

Over the past year, sovereigns have demanded $2 million from the city and state per traffic stop, claiming the stops were a violation of their rights.

Sovereigns also believe their birth certificates are linked to a secret stash of cash at the U.S. Treasury, though no such fund exists.

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