Criminal Justice News

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Nevada County Man Sentenced to Nearly 30 Years in Prison for Wounding Two Law Enforcement Officers in Gun Battle

Brent Douglas Cole, 61, was sentenced to 29 years and seven months in prison today for an assault on law enforcement officers by U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr., announced U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner for the Eastern District of California.

On Feb. 11, 2015, after a three-day trial, a federal jury found Cole guilty of assaulting a federal officer with a deadly weapon that inflicted bodily injury, assaulting a person assisting a federal officer with a deadly weapon that inflicted bodily injury and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.

According to evidence presented at trial, on June 14, 2014, a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ranger stopped Cole while he was driving a vehicle on a closed dirt road on BLM land near the South Yuba River campground.  The ranger gave Cole a warning and allowed him to leave without issuing him a citation.  The ranger continued up the dirt road and discovered a makeshift campsite with two motorcycles – one of which had been reported stolen and the other with expired tags.  The ranger requested the California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) help to impound the motorcycles.

While the ranger and a CHP officer were preparing to move the two motorcycles, Cole emerged from the brush surrounding the campsite and announced that he was coming to get his things.  The ranger asked Cole if he was armed and when Cole replied that he was, the ranger reached for his handcuffs.  Cole said he would not allow the ranger to place the handcuffs on him.  Cole then drew a Taurus .44-caliber revolver from the right side of his waist, pointed the weapon at the ranger and fired multiple rounds.  One round struck the Ranger in the left shoulder.  In response to Cole’s actions, the ranger and the CHP officer returned fire.  Cole fired multiple rounds at the CHP officer and one bullet struck the officer in the right leg.  Cole was struck several times by law enforcement.

After expending his ammunition and being shot multiple times, Cole gave up and was arrested. Cole, the BLM ranger and the CHP officer received medical attention and all survived their wounds.

“The defendant has repeatedly demonstrated that he lacks remorse and has no respect for the law,” said Judge Burrell in the sentencing.  “…He has a stunning lack of regard for anyone other than himself.”

“The men and women in law enforcement who serve our communities risk their lives every day they report to work,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner.  “The BLM ranger and CHP officer who were shot in this case were doing nothing more than carrying out routine duties.  We are gratified with today’s sentence, we appreciate the assistance and cooperation of the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office and we will continue to make prosecuting those who put officers at risk a top priority for our office.  More than anything, we are thankful that their injuries were not more severe and that the incident did not result in a loss of life.”

“I thank the Department of Justice, Office of the U.S. Attorney and the many jurisdictions at the federal, state and local level who worked together to successfully prosecute this case,” said California State Director Jim Kenna for BLM.  “On behalf of the BLM, thank you to all the brave men and women who risk their lives, backing each other up to protect America’s public lands and the people who visit them.”

“This case is illustrative of the risk law enforcement officers face on a daily basis” said Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller of the Sacramento’s Field Office for the FBI.  “Cole violently assaulted both a Bureau of Land Management officer and the CHP officer who was assisting him in his lawful duties.  Cole will now have decades to consider his willful disregard for the officer’s duty to uphold the law.  The FBI stands ready to investigate such violent crimes against federal officers and thank our law enforcement partners for their collaboration.”

“Every day, our officers go to work not knowing what dangers they may face,” said Commissioner Joe Farrow for CHP.  “This case demonstrated not only the challenges and dangers, but also the cooperation and teamwork among agencies that protect the people of California.  On behalf of the CHP, I would like to express my appreciation to U.S. District Judge Burrell for his deliberations in pronouncing the nearly 30-year sentence.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Land Management, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the California Highway Patrol, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office.  Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. McCoy and Assistant U.S. Attorney Heiko Coppola prosecuted the case.

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