Did Round Rock police go too far when they stopped an innocent family?
ROUND ROCK, Texas - Dash cam video is providing a closer view of a recent controversial traffic stop on Mo-Pac that happened on Christmas Day. Round Rock police thought they had caught a car thief instead they gave an Oak Hill family a very real scare.
It was a high risk traffic stop, captured by several police dash cameras as well as by FOX 7, which just happened to be at the scene. The driver who was being taken into custody by Round Rock police was 62-year-old Glen Burton.
"I'm yelling at them, hey we're just a family driving home back to the house, nothing is going on, said Burton who is a certified house and commercial property inspector from Oak Hill.
His Christmas Day confrontation with the police started on I-35 when a Round Rock officer started following his truck.
"I didn't think anything, I wasn't speeding and nothing was going on, I wasn't really worried about anything."
What he didn't know was that a check of the license plates on his truck had indicated it was stolen. Within moments his trip home to Oak Hill with his wife and daughter came to an abrupt end at the Mo-Pac / Lakeshore Drive overpass. The tension increased as four more police units arrived and tactical positions were taken.
"And they all get out and draw down on us with pistols rifles behind their doors."
Burton was told the get to his knees and was then handcuffed.
"You never know what might happen, and you are staring down the barrel of guns - even though I say it didn't freak me out- you still pucker up a little bit, thinking, hey I hope they don't shoot."
Burton's wife was also told to get out of the truck and forced to her knees at gunpoint. When she asked what they had done, an officer told her they believed the family was in a stolen truck.
"Now my wife, she, it really bothered her for days afterwards, it really unsettled her the way that it happened to her," said Burton.
It turns out the Burton's were the victims. Someone had stolen the tags off their truck and replaced them with license plates from a similar truck that had recently been stolen out of Georgetown. Burton said he was just trying to cooperate and not make any sudden moves.
"With all this stuff that's been going on in Ferguson and everywhere else do what the police tell you to do, don't argue with them, just "sir" them to death, that's how I was raised, don't argue with them," said burton.
Eventually handcuffs were taken off and a patrol supervisor cleared up the confusion.
"I want to apologize for the inconvenience," said the RRPD Supervisor.
Burton responded by saying, "I was wondering what the hell was going on."
Looking back on the situation, Burton did offer a suggestion.
"I think that all they needed to do is get me out of the truck, check my driver's license and see what was going on, they had plenty of guns they didn't need to get everybody out of my truck and handcuff my wife, "said Burton.
The situation is an example as to why a lot of police officers say there is no such thing as a routine traffic stop - but is this show of force that the Burton's saw Christmas Day really necessary.
Civil rights attorney Jim Harrington reviewed the dash camera video.
"I mean this is really, over the top," said Harrington.
He offered that assessment because the traffic stop could have taken a bad turn.
"You know we were very lucky nothing worse happened, you know we were very lucky nothing worse happened with 5 officers with their guns," said Harrington.
The aggressive tactics raise questions about training for Harrington and he suggested the encounter should've been limited just to the driver.
In a statement sent to FOX 7, Round Rock police spokesperson, Angelique Myers wrote;
"On this particular high risk traffic stop, our officers performed according to department procedures and did an outstanding job ensuring officer and public safety."
Glenn Burton, doesn't totally agree with that, but he is willing to forgive and move on.
"I think it was a little bit excessive, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt," said Burton.
Round Rock police have not been able to determine who switched the license plates on Glen Burton's truck. Ironically, Burton also told FOX 7 that a year ago, his truck was actually stolen. It was recovered in Tennessee.