Crime - Sacto 911

Man sentenced to prison for shooting ranger, CHP officer

Federal court in Sacramento.
Federal court in Sacramento. Sacramento Bee file

Brent Douglas Cole insists he is a “sovereign citizen” not subject to officialdom, but his exemption from governmental authority crumbled right before his eyes Friday as he was hauled off to prison for almost 30 years for wounding a federal ranger and a California Highway Patrol officer in a Nevada County shootout.

According to papers on file in Sacramento federal court, Bureau of Land Management ranger Tad Pultorak and CHP Officer Brant Hardin were removing two motorcycles from an unsanctioned campsite in a remote area near the South Yuba River campground on June 14, 2014, when they were confronted by Cole and a gunfight broke out. All three suffered wounds that were not life-threatening.

After exhausting his ammunition and being shot several times, Cole surrendered and was arrested, court papers say.

Cole, 62, was found guilty by a jury in February of assaulting Pultorak and Hardin, and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.

Calling Cole a dangerous man who has accepted no responsibility for his attack on the officers, U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. sentenced him to 29 years and seven months behind bars. There is no parole in the federal system, but the term could be reduced by 54 days a year, depending on his behavior.

Cole told the judge he would like to be incarcerated in North Dakota, where he had been living.

“I was just visiting here when this happened,” he said.

Cole “has repeatedly demonstrated that he lacks remorse and has no respect for the law,” Burrell remarked. “He has a stunning lack of regard for anyone other than himself.

“I opine that the defendant has concocted a fanciful story about law enforcement officials to get his conviction overturned.”

The judge was interrupted several times by Cole until an impatient Burrell told him if he did it again he would wind up in the office of the U.S. Marshals Service watching the proceedings on closed-circuit television.

“Don’t interrupt me again,” the judge ordered. “I’m ruling. You’re done.”

Cole, who was representing himself, protested: “I would like to object because I have not had an opportunity to speak.”

“You can’t speak all day,” Burrell told him. “It has to be something pertinent to sentencing.”

The judge described Cole as a “manipulator,” noting that he now claims his lawyer was ineffective during the trial, even though he seemed at the time to be satisfied with the lawyer’s work.

“I think (Cole) knows what he did was wrong,” Burrell declared. “He all but conceded that” in an interview conducted by law enforcement officers while he was still in the hospital recovering from his wounds.

In a brief filed last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Heiko Coppola pointed out that Cole has attempted to perpetuate a “self-defense narrative, and attempted to portray himself as the victim in this case.” His “mantra” is that “he merely acted in self-defense as (Pultorak) unjustifiably assaulted him. This story was flatly rejected by the jury.”

Coppola noted in the brief that Cole fired his pistol six times, striking both Pultorak and Hardin.

“These are not the acts of an individual trying to defend himself against unlawful actions of two allegedly ‘rogue’ police officers … but rather the actions of a cold-blooded individual determined to show law enforcement ‘who’s boss,’” the prosecutor wrote.

Denny Walsh: 916-321-1189