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California Man Sentenced to Nearly 30 Years for Attack on Two Law Enforcement Officers

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A California man who, in 2014 wounded federal and state law enforcement officers in a 2014 gun battle on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property, has been sentenced to 29 years and seven months in prison.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner for the Eastern District of California announced the sentence imposed on Brent Douglas Cole, 61, by U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr.

Earlier this year, 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 following a three-day trial.

According to evidence presented at trial, a BLM ranger stopped Cole while he was driving a vehicle on a closed BLM dirt road near the South Yuba River campground. The BLM ranger gave Cole a warning that he was on closed federal land, and allowed him to leave without issuing a citation. Subsequently, the ranger discovered farther up the dirt road a makeshift campsite with two motorcycles. One motorcycle had been reported stolen and the other had expired tags. The BLM ranger called in the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to help impound the motorcycles.

As the BLM ranger and the CHP officer prepared to move the two motorcycles, Cole appeared at the campsite and announced he was collecting his belongings. When asked by the ranger if he was armed, Cole said yes, and after the ranger reached for his handcuffs, Cole said he would not allow himself to be cuffed.

Cole then drew a Taurus .44-caliber revolver, pointed at the ranger and fired multiple shots, striking the BLM ranger in the left shoulder. The ranger and CHP officer returned fire, striking Cole multiple times, and the CHP officer was hit by a bullet in the right leg after a shootout.  

Cole surrendered after running out of ammunition, and was arrested. The BLM ranger and CHP officer, who received medical attention, survived their wounds.

Cole’s case was investigated by the BLM, FBI, CHP, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office.

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. McCoy and Assistant U.S. Attorney Heiko Coppola prosecuted the case.



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