Texas man drops pants and throws joint at officer during traffic stop
A Texas police chief is praising an officer for smoothly handling a traffic stop this week involving a suspect caught on video dropping his pants, exposing his butt and flicking a joint at the officer.
Sgt. Travis Baker pulled 30-year-old Freddy Espinoza Jr. over on Monday around 10 p.m. for speeding in Aransas Pass, just northeast of Corpus Christi on the Gulf Coast, police said in a news release. But when Baker told Espinoza to show him his hands, Espinoza put up his middle fingers and cursed as Baker called in other officers for backup, body camera video shows.
“Just keep your hands where I can see them, bud,” Baker told Espinoza.
“Go f--- yourself. How’s that for you?” Espinoza responded.
Espinoza suddenly got out of the car and confronted the officer face to face, video shows. Police described Espinoza as “very agitated, highly intoxicated, and acting verbally aggressive.”
“It’s not an easy job, especially when you have to set aside internal emotions that tend to get the best of you while enduring high levels of berating, threats, and ridicule,” Chief Eric Blanchard said in a statement Thursday. “Over time and without constructive means of release, these types of events will take their toll on even the most thickest-skinned of us all.”
Once Espinoza was out of his car, he was told to put his hands on the back of the vehicle, but he kept turning around to berate the officer, the seven-minute video shows. At one point, Espinoza turned around and pulled a joint from behind his ear, putting it in his mouth and saying he’s going to “light this joint up.”
Baker was pointing a Taser at Espinoza, which Espinoza suggested was really a gun.
“You gonna shoot me in my chest?” Espinoza asked while looking at the officer and holding the joint between his fingers. “I ain’t even got a gun.”
Eventually, Espinoza turned back around and put his hands on the car — but then dropped his pants and underwear and lifted his shirt up a bit, revealing his butt to the officer, video shows.
“Pull your clothes up, man,” Baker told Espinoza, as Espinoza moved the joint from his hands to his mouth and back.
Espinoza pulled up his underwear and pants, and tossed the joint directly at Baker, video shows. Meanwhile, backup police sirens could be heard arriving at the scene. Officers then took Espinoza to the ground and handcuffed him, video shows.
Police said in the video that Espinoza had an open container in the vehicle, which he was drinking as he was pulled over.
He was booked in jail on charges of driving while intoxicated with an open container, resisting arrest, evading arrest and obstruction or retaliation against officers, according to the news release.
Espinoza remains in jail on around $80,000 bond, KIII reports.
“I could see with my headlights into the vehicle,” Baker said, according to the TV station. “I could see he was consuming a beer in the car. I started giving him commands and he started cursing at me from the get go.”
Baker also explained why he handled the situation like he did.
“No matter what he does, I want to control the situation. I want to be in charge,” he told the TV station. “So if that means being nice to this guy, keeping the tone of my voice down — any little thing like that that I can do that might bring him back down and prevent something, somebody from getting hurt, prevent me from having to use force against him — that’s what I want to do.”