Houston man pleads guilty to threatening federal law enforcement


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Houston, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to assaulting and threatening federal law enforcement officers at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

22-year-old James W. Dickens pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to one count of assaulting a federal officer and one count of threatening to murder a federal law enforcement officer.

Dickens drove a stolen vehicle to the north gate of Fort Leonard Wood shortly after 1 a.m. on June 11, 2023. He made several statements to personnel at the gate while acting erratically, according to today’s plea agreement, and showed them he had an axe in the passenger seat of the vehicle. Dickens then fled from the gate and, after a high-speed pursuit, he crashed the vehicle he was driving into the north gate drop arm barrier, yelling and cursing as officers surrounded the vehicle. He got out of his vehicle and walked away from the officers. Dickens admitted that, as one of the officers drew his taser, Dickens said, “If you tase me, I will kill you,” or words to that effect. He then charged toward the officer with his fists clenched, and the officer tased him.

Dickens fell to the ground but resisted the officers as they attempted to apprehend him, and said he was going to kill the officer who tased him. The officers handcuffed Dickens and placed him in a Military Police vehicle, where he continued to scream and threaten the officers.

Officers pulled Dickens out of the vehicle a short time later so fire department personnel could assess his health. Dickens continued to act hostile, according to the plea agreement. He kicked one officer on his right leg and headbutted another officer on his left cheekbone. Dickens again said he was going to kill the officers. The officers placed him back in the vehicle. A few minutes later paramedics arrived and officers opened the car door to ask Dickens if he would cooperate with the paramedics so they could assess him. Dickens spit on one of the officers and yelled, “Yeah, b***h, now you got HIV,” or words to that effect. Later, officers pulled Dickens out of the vehicle and placed him on a gurney to be transported to the hospital. As the officers were restraining him to the gurney, Dickens headbutted one of the officers on the right side of his head and again said he was going to kill them. Dickens was then placed in the back of an ambulance, where he spit on the face of one of the paramedics.

Under federal statutes, Dickens is subject to a sentence of up to 18 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Casey Clark and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Cesar Vargas. It was investigated by the U.S. Army, Fort Leonard Wood, and Military Police Investigations.

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