Traffic stop turns into life or death situation

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - By Bob Hallmark - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email | Twitter

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - A simple traffic stop, suddenly turned into a life and death situation for an East Texas officer.

It happened just before 8 o'clock Thursday night in the 2000 block of West Marshall Avenue. That is where a Longview officer pulled over a vehicle, but was nearly run over in the process as the suspect floored his acceleration.

Patrol officers stopped a Ford pick-up around 7:53 p.m. Thursday, not knowing things were about to go terribly wrong.

"Officers witnessed a traffic violation and pulled the truck over for that infraction," said Kevin Brownlee, with the Longview Police Department.

Billye Jack Baldwin, 43, was behind the wheel, and he had an outstanding warrant for violation of parole.

Once officers notified Baldwin that he was going to be placed under arrest, he made a dangerous decision. He hit the accelerator to his pickup truck and stared driving with an officer right in his path.

"It's a bad moment," said Brownlee. "You never know what's going to happen. An officer in fear of his life had seconds to react and figure out what he was going to do and in defense of his life fired shots at the vehicle."

Police say the officer shot at Baldwin in self-defense, but Baldwin got away, ditching his truck off Lake Lamond Road and disappearing for several hours.

"Someone behind the wheel of a 4,000 pound vehicle and they're going to drive in you're direction, you've got a second to make up your mind what you're going to do, if you can get out of the way or need to defend your life, use deadly force," said Brownlee. "You've got a second to figure that out, otherwise you get run over."

No one was injured, and Baldwin was caught around 1 a.m. Friday at a Kilgore hotel.

"[It was a] very dangerous situation [that] could have gone very badly," said Brownlee.

He now faces a more serious charge than just parole violation. Baldwin is being charged with aggravated assault of a public servant and evading arrest with a vehicle.

The Longview officer is on paid leave while the incident is under investigation.

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