A recent incident in Montgomery County highlights how hyper-protective Texas laws are for police officers in the line of duty: after fleeing a traffic stop and allegedly dragging a police officer for a few yards, a suspect is being charged not with a misdemeanor assault, but with the serious felony offense of aggravated assault.
Suspect Flees Traffic Stop, Drags Officer
The incident happened on the night of February 13, 2019, in Montgomery County. Police officers pulled over a vehicle that was going southbound on Interstate 45.
According to the initial reports, when the officer approached the vehicle, the driver reached for something under the seat. When the officer told him to stop moving, the driver hit the gas. The officer was dragged by the car for a short distance before letting go.
Media reports are saying that the officer is in “stable condition,” even though his injuries appear to only be a scraped knee.
The incident led to a manhunt that eventually ended with an arrest. The suspect is now being charged with aggravated assault and evading arrest.
It is still unclear what the initial traffic stop was for: while there are reports that the suspect has prior offenses for drug crimes, he does not seem to be facing a drug charge or a driving while intoxicated (DWI) allegation.
Trumped Up Charges for Officer's Minor Injuries
The charges that the suspect is now facing from the traffic stop highlight how Texas law bends over backward to punish anyone who lifts a finger against police officers.
In spite of the police officer sustaining only very minor injuries from the incident, the suspect is now being charged with aggravated assault under Texas Penal Code § 22.02, rather than normal assault under § 22.01. The difference is not insignificant. Aggravated assault under § 22.02(b)(2)(B) is a first-degree felony that is punishable by five to 99 years in jail, while normal assault under § 22.01 is only a Class A misdemeanor, which carries only up to a year in jail.
The extra level of severity completely outweighs the magnitude of the offense – not only was the officer barely scathed, but the suspect almost certainly had no intent to drag the officer with his vehicle, and likely had little if any power to keep the officer from grabbing hold of his car while he tried to get away.
Houston's Foremost DWI and Drug Defense Lawyer
Justice involves people getting what they deserve. While fleeing a traffic stop and evading an arrest are criminal offenses, this particular suspect can be facing exorbitantly high penalties for something they had very little control over and that caused only minor injuries.
Unfortunately, these circumstances can arise whenever a police officer pulls someone over for DWI or a suspected drug crime. Traffic stops like these are probably the most common way for members of the public to interact with a police officer in the Houston area. The fact that aggravated assault charges are so close to being filed in each and every one of these situations is truly disturbing.
Doug Murphy represents clients accused of DWI or drug crimes in the Houston area. Contact him online or call him at (713) 229-8333 for legal help.