Police Officer Breaks Driver’s Window: Overreacting or Just?

  • By:heather foelsing
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While it may not be the most heinous crime to commit, speeding is certainly illegal. What’s more, Texas’ Transportation Code positively does set—and allow for the enforcement of—speed limits throughout the state. But according to one man who was pulled over for driving 50 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour zone, speeding isn’t a crime. And when the same man—Scott Richardson, age 49—refused to give a police officer his license and registration, the police officer smashed in his car window.

Man Insists that Speeding Isn’t Illegal

When the Texas police officer pulled over Richardson for speeding, it’s unlikely that he was expecting the standoff that he received. When asking Richardson to hand over his license and registration, Richardson—rather than flat out refusing—replied by claiming that speeding wasn’t a crime. In fact, Richardson even went so far as to ask the officer, who has not been identified, what right he had to stop him for speeding. The officer replied that the state of Texas had given him the right to enforce the law.

Things Get Ugly

While a verbal confrontation is one thing—with Richardson constantly repeating that he’d like to speak with the officer’s superior, and the officer constantly repeating that he wants Richardson’s name, license, and registration—a physical confrontation is another. While there was no fistfight in this standoff, the officer did take matters into his own hands. Pulling out an expandable police stick from his belt, the officer tells Richardson that if he doesn’t roll down his window and hand over his documentation, the officer will break the window himself. When Richardson fails to act, the officer does just that – smashes the window to pieces.

What’s next?

Peter Schulte, a former police officer who now works as a lawyer, told reporters that he believes that the officer acted within his rights, and that Schulte would have done the same thing if it had been him. Richardson, naturally, is facing criminal charges. He says he plans to represent himself in court. Sigh.

The situation is complicated for a number of reasons. First, Texas Penal Code Section 38.02 leads some room for interpretation regarding whether or not a person is obligated to give their name to an officer. When under arrest, the law is clear – a person must provide their name. When simply being detained, the law is less lucid. However, when detained while driving a motor vehicle, drivers are legally obliged to provide identification. Secondly, the officer’s right to break Richardson’s window is also in question.

The Importance of a Criminal Defense Attorney

While Richardson will be representing himself in court, all people who have been convicted of a crime—particularly in situations where an attending/arresting officer may have committed a wrong—should seek legal council.

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Houston, the attorneys at The Hill Law Firm want to represent you. Call us at 713-352-1571 to learn more!



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