LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A jury found a Lufkin man guilty of hitting a police officer working security at a private event. Judge Bob Inselman ordered pre-sentence investigation to gain a better understanding of terms of probation.
The same jury has sentenced Christopher Blaine Jones, 26, to ten years probation for the incident, as well as a $10,000 fine. The judge then ordered a pre-sentence investigation to gain a better understanding of how the probation should be served. Possibilities include that Jones would be required to refrain from drinking alcohol, as he was intoxicated when he hit the officer. Also, there could be a 180 jail sentence included in the terms of the probation, if the judge decides to do so.
The judge will make the decision in the next few weeks, he said.The jury took about 90 minutes to determine the verdict.
After the sentence was read, Inselman read a statement from the jury.
"We feel putting the maximum sentence of probation and fine is appropriate because of the defendants lack of remorse," The statement said. "the jury feels the maximum probation sentence allows the defendant to reassess his life choices. To our great disappointment the defendant not once apologized for assaulting officer Walker."
Jones was originally charged with third-degree felony assaulting a public servant, Class A misdemeanor resisting arrest, and Class C misdemeanor public intoxication. Inselmann rejected Jones' guilty plea back in October of 2015 because Jones kept making it seem like the Lufkin PD officer was asking to get hit in the way he was treating them in regard to the alcohol.
"I was happy with the outcome." Walker said. "I feel like the public showed they do back our police department. This wasn't a case between me and him but this was against the suspect and law."
Earlier in the day, prosecuting Attorney Sandra Martin questioned Lufkin officer Dale Dodd. Dodd told prosecutor Sandra Martin that while being arrested Clinton Smith said, "I'm going to kick your [expletive], you [expletive].
Dodd said while he was dealing with Smith, Jones was there but did not cause a problem.
On Monday, Martin detailed the scene of an event at the Pitser-Garrison Convention Center. She said the defendant was leaving with liquor though not allowed to leave the building with an open container.
She said the defendant was with a group of people. A man named Clint told Sgt. David Walker, who attempted to stop the defendant from leaving the premises, "You have two choices. Go back inside, or you know the other one."
She said Walker asked Jones to put his hands behind his back.
"He appeared to comply, then punched Sgt.Walker in the face," Martin said.
Al Charanza, Jones' defense attorney, argued that the original confrontation was between Clint Smith, his ex-wife, and Walker. Charanza said Jones attended the event with his family members.
"He was going back to the auction to pay for a picture he paid for." Charanza said.
Charanza said Jones was unlawfully arrested. Charanza argued that Walker was working overtime and was not to be considered a "public servant."
He said there is no doubt that Jones hit Walker, but he was unlawfully arrested by an officer who was not acting as a public servant at the moment.
"Things got out of hand, but you have to separate what Clint did. Is what Jones did criminal?" Charanza said.
He said Walker shot his Taser at Jones.
In her closing arguments, Martin said Jones thinks he is above the law.
"He hit the officer," Martin said. "He told you he didn't know about the Taser until later on he saw the mark on him. He has no defenses. He deserves no defenses. He just decided he was above the law."
Martin said Jones is young and is fighting it because he does not want a conviction.
"I don't want you to feel sorry for someone with their background and what happened here," Martin said. "You save you feelings for the punishment. We will figure that out later."
Charanza argued in his closing arguments that Sgt. Walker was rude to the defendant.
"There are a lot of officers in here, the family is in here and a lot of citizens are here," Charanza said. "Don't let them sway you."
"There are a lot of people coming out with beer," Charanza said. "All of the sudden the attention goes to Clint Smith."
Charanza said when Walker arrived on scene to an argument, his family stated they were okay and they just were leaving.
"You don't need an officer to do that," Charanza said. "They were there to enforce TABC regulations. You don't need an officer for that. He was not acting as a public servant at the time."
Charanza said the state is trying to elevate the incident and make it a felony.
"They are not law enforcement officers 24-7," Charanza said.
Charanza said the family was just trying to tell Walker they were going home.
"For Walker, it was a problem and that's where he overstepped and tried to make it more," Charanza said.
Charanza said Jones was not doing anything wrong.
"If he did something wrong all he did was arguing with an officer," Charanza said. "That is a constitutional right. He did nothing wrong."
Charanza said Jones was justified in his striking the officer.
"You think if you were shot with a Taser, you wouldn't react and turn and swing," Charanza said. "He reacted like most would."
Charanza said there was no reason for Walker to pat down Jones.
"Was he even working as a public servant, because he wasn't working for Lufkin," Charanza said. "He is working for the Turkey Federation. He is working under the guidelines of the TABC, he and the officers under him."
Martin said you have to set the cart right when you hear from people that don't want to own up to what is right.
"These people were not peaceful and did not want to go home," Martin said. "They did not like how things went down and were not happy."
Martin said Walker was trying to do his job and he was threatened.
"He acted unreasonably because he was drunk, and being drunk is not a defense," Martin said. "I am going to make your job clear. He is guilty of assault of a public servant. Anything less would be an injustice."
The sentencing phase started with former Lufkin Police Sgt. David Walker, who said he had a concussion and now has knee problems.
"I have been hurt before but that is what stuck with me," Walker said. "I have done this a long time but what really bothered me was how provoked this was. The alcohol thing is not a big deal. It is something we have to do."
Walker said it emotionally bothered him because he was jumped on and he has always been scared to kill someone.
"That gentlemen owes me his life, because I grabbed that Taser," Walker said. "I want him to know the consequences of his actions."
Walker said this is a law enforcement issue.
"This was not an attack on me," Walker said. "This was an attack on officers and who wear the badge."
Mindy Polson, the daughter of Walker, then answered questions.
"When I first saw my dad, he did not have his glasses on," Polson said. "He was beat up and bloody. Growing up, all I ever knew was my daddy being a police officer. I can't explain what it means to get a call like that. This is not okay. This should not be the message passed to this community."
Cpl. Randy Brooks said the only experience he has ever had with Jones was that night.
"Out of the thousands of people I've encountered in my years, I have experienced maybe three assaults," Brooks said.
Keith Jones, the President of Angelina Savings Bank, then spoke on behalf of Jones, who he knows through family and business.
"I have never had an issue with Blaine," Jones said. "I know he is a hard worker. He and his family are normally together. They like to hunt, fish and things like that. I have never seen him get out of line."
Jones said he does not see him as a threat to the community based off of knowing the family for 15 years.
"I think he made a mistake but he is a good kid," Jones said.
Jones said they are not related as far as he knows.
Damon Waldron then spoke about Jones, who he said he has known his entire life.
"Blaine has always been 'yes sir, no sir'," Waldron said. "If I had to go to someone about getting a job done, I would go to him."
Waldron said he does not know of any drinking problem Jones would have.
"I don't agree with it [hitting an officer]," Waldron said. "Every situation is different. I have a business that has people drinking sometimes. We have had people drunk and we try to approach them and deal with it appropriately."
Waldron said Jones is a good kid and always has been.
"Some things have happened and I think he regrets it," Waldron said.
Sam Baker said he has known Jones for about 6 or 7 years. Baker was a supervisor for Jones when he was 19 years-old. Baker said he was more reliable and mature than most people his age.
Baker said he has never seen Jones abusive with alcohol and was shocked when he saw that this happened.
Connor Nabours said he has known Jones for about six years.
Nabours said he has seen him every week for at least the last year. Nabours said Jones drank, but since the assault happened, he has not.
"I drink and he knows it, but he never drank with me or said anything to those that did," Nabours said.
Nabours said he is a great father and wished he had a father like that.
Nabours told Martin that Jones did seem sorry for what he did.
Amanda Fisher then answered questions about their 10 year friendship. Fisher said the two hang out once a month.
"I have never seen Blaine be aggressive," Fisher said. "I've never seen Blaine be disrespectful with anyone. I have not seen him drink since the incident. I think he is very worried because he is concerned about his two children."
June Smith then talked about her grandson.
"He is a hard worker," Smith said. "He has small children and he never pawns them off on me. He keeps a clean home."
Smith said Jones is usually at the office early to make sure everything is right.
Smith said he would follow any order of the court and that he has not had a drink since the incident.
"He regrets it," Smith said. "He was drunk and wasn't thinking. It was a spur of the moment issue."
Smith told Martin that if her husband was punched then she would try to see why it happened. Smith said in Jones' type of case, there should be punishment but it should not be overboard.
"I raised him to be a very respectful person," Smith said. "You can ask anyone we know, he is very respectful. This is an incident he regrets. Sometimes you have bullies and you have to retaliate. He should not be given the maximum sentence for one punch."
Jones then pleaded his case to the jury.
"I have never been in any other trouble," Jones said. "It happened and you convicted me of it and I would ask that I get probation so I can continue to work and be with my kids."
Jones said he is almost done with probation on the resisting arrest charge. Jones also said he would be willing to pay any court cost and any restitution to the city of Lufkin.
Jones said he has quit drinking and has thought about the incident a lot.
Jones said he has family and friends that are police officers but on that night, there was a setting and a mood that did not go well.
"I ask that I have the opportunity to work and raise my children," Jones said.