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The man charged with the attempted murders of two officers in Nevada County claims he acted in self-defense.

Brent Cole, 60, is a self-described "sovereign citizen," which is part of a growing movement of people who believe they decide which laws to obey and which to ignore. It's been linked to violence against law enforcement, but Cole said his beliefs have nothing to do with what happened.

"I did not fire first," Cole said.

From behind bars in Nevada County, Cole offered a different account of what led to a shootout with officers nearly two weeks ago.

"I was acting in self-defense," Cole said.

Cole said he first ran into Bureau of Land Management Ranger Tad Pultorak near Edwards Crossing in his pickup, while he was leaving his campsite.

"He said there was no road there, and on his personal authority, I was not to bring my pickup truck back there," Cole recounted.

Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson thinks that first encounter provoked Cole.

"What he perceived as a negative contact with a BLM officer about an illegal campsite on federal land," Ferguson explained.

But Cole claims he stayed calm even during their second encounter -- when the ranger brought California Highway Patrol officer Brant Hardin as back up and approached Cole's campsite again.

"It was like he was trying to pick a fight," Cole said.

But here's where his story takes a very dramatic turn from what authorities say happened.

"Mr. Cole definitely initiated the shots," Ferguson said.

Cole denies that.

"My rights were disrespected, my right to bear arms," Cole explained.

He said Pultorak demanded his weapons and he refused to give them up.

"He suddenly drew down on me and I reflexed and grabbed mine. He gut shot me," Cole said as he pulled up his shirt to reveal the gunshot wound and stitches on his stomach. "This was his first bullet. It went all the way through me."

Cole said he fired back, hitting both officers.

"There was no intention on my part to kill or maim," Cole said.

Cole said he thinks the shootout could have been prevented. He also said his sovereign beliefs have nothing to do with it, but Cole does think overzealous officers are to blame.

"Law enforcement is there to enforce the law and when they think their agenda is more important than protecting rights guaranteed by the constitution, that's where problems arise," Cole said.

Cole had already been facing weapons charges stemming from an arrest earlier in January for carrying a loaded firearm and having a concealed firearm in his vehicle.

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