FROM STAFF REPORTS
MARBLE FALLS — A traffic stop that could have resulted in a warning ended with a motorist allegedly assaulting two police officers and landing in jail facing a felony charge, according to the Marble Falls Police Department.
The incident occurred at about 3:30 p.m Jan. 28 at the intersection of Avenue M and Second Street in Marble Falls.
The motorist, 33-year-old Christine Causey Burns, was pulled over by Sgt. James Cole and Officer Ben Masters, the report stated.
What happened over the course of the interaction has served as a precautionary tale for motorists, officials said.
“She ran a stop sign. The officer went up to talk to her. Apparently, she rolled up her window, refused to talk to him, refused to (identify) herself, refused to exit the vehicle,” Det. Sgt. Barry Greer said. “She ultimately exited the vehicle. While being placed under arrest for failure to identify … she struck Sgt. Cole.
“Officer Masters was injured as well,” he said.
Ultimately, the officers arrested Burns and charged her with assault on a public servant, a third-degree felony; resisting arrest, a class A misdemeanor; and failure to identify, a class C misdemeanor.
Cole reported hand and face injuries, while Masters suffered a neck injury.
The incident provided an example of restraint by officers in an agency that emphasizes “de-escalation” tactics.
“Some of the situations these guys have been in, they would have been justified in using deadly force,” Greer said. “But we train these guys in de-escalation techniques so they don’t have to use deadly force.
“They did a great job from what I read,” he added about the handling of the Jan. 28 incident. “They handled it as they were trained using the minimum amount of force necessary.”
After Burns was booked into the Burnet County Jail, both officers returned to work.
“She turned a misdemeanor into a felony by her actions by failing to do her duty to identify herself and comply with the officer’s demands,” Greer said. “Just because we stop you doesn’t automatically mean you get a ticket.
“We write more warnings than we do citations,” he added. “The side of the road is not the place to debate the violation that has or has not occurred. The courtroom is the appropriate place.”
The Marble Falls Police Department offered motorists the following words of advice if stopped by an officer:
• Make sure you pull over in a safe, practical manner as soon as possible.
• As the officer approaches the vehicle, keep your hands visible.
• Roll down your window at the officer’s request.
• Wait for the officer’s instruction to produce the proper documents (avoid rummaging in a console or purse before the officer asks for documents).
• Explain to the officer what you are about to retrieve upon his or her request.
• Avoid sudden movements that might cause suspicion.
• Do not exit the vehicle unless you are requested to do so by the officer.
• If the officer requests you exit your vehicle, comply and await further instructions.
“We enforce traffic laws to keep the roadways safe for you and your children. It’s a privilege that we all have,” Greer said. “You don’t have an inherent right to drive. You have to abide by certain rule and laws to keep that privilege.”
Multiple attempts to reach Burns at her residence after she was released from jail Jan. 30 were unsuccessful.