SPOKANE, Wash. - One of the two men who refused to get out of the car during a SWAT standoff in Otis Orchards last Wednesday speaks out to KHQ Local News.
Michael Francis Hicks, 55, and his brother-in-law David Gallad, 58, were booked into jail last week on several charges including driving with a suspended license and obstructing after a three-hour standoff with local law enforcement.
Hicks said he wasn't trying to prove anything to the authorities. Rather, he believed his common law rights were violated. "I feel like they trespassed against us," Hicks said in a jailhouse interview with KHQ.
"I have sovereign rights, unalienable rights that I was born with under the Constitution of the United States," Hicks continued.
Under common law, Hicks believes he is not subject to any statutes at the federal, state or local levels. It's those beliefs which led him to drive a truck with decals and license plates featuring the letters UCC. The letters stand for Uniform Commercial Code and is often an identifier for someone who agrees with a sovereign citizen philosophy.
The plates, however, were modified and therefore invalid. Deputies confirmed there was no record of the plates in the system. Last week, Hicks and his brother-in-law were pulled over because of the invalid plates.
But, once pulled over, the pair refused to get out the car.
The situation quickly escalated into a SWAT standoff, especially because, according to authorities, many sovereigns do not recognize law enforcement's authority.
For that same reason, a recent FBI report labeled sovereign citizens a "domestic terrorist threat".
During the standoff, Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Chamberlin said, "Sheriff Knezovich attempted to speak with the folks but they just would not listen."
But Hicks argued that they were just afraid. "I wasn't thinking of their authoritative position," he said. "I was thinking there was a lot of guns out there and I'm pulled over for going down the road, doing nothing. I understand I have these signs on the back. I put them there. I put them there to be safe, not to be unsafe." After a three-hour standoff, deputies arrested the pair and they were booked into jail on a number of charges. In jail, Hicks made no apologies for his beliefs in the common law, which he said, are rooted in the Bible. "As long as God lets me live, will never say that I was wrong," he continued. "I am right in what I am saying and that's just the way it is. Whatever they do or try to do to me, that's up to them. But I'm not going to change."