Dobbins v. State

In Dobbins v. State, 228 S.W.3d 761 (Tex. App.--Houston 14th Dist. 2007, pet. ref'd), the defendant drove a vehicle directly at the victim, stopped at a distance of "about one to one-and-a-half car lengths" from the victim, and then drove the vehicle forward at no more than ten miles per hour before striking the victim with the automobile. 228 S.W.3d at 763. The victim testified that the defendant saw him standing there prior to striking him with the vehicle; additionally, the victim made no mention as to whether the defendant said anything to the victim before being struck. Id. The Court held that the defendant's conduct in Dobbins was factually sufficient to constitute an actual threat. Id. at 766-67. The Fourteenth Court of Appeals held that Dobbins acted intentionally or knowingly by driving at Officer Vest, stopping in front of Vest at his command, and then moving forward again as Vest started to walk toward the driver's side window, hitting Vest and lifting him onto the hood of the car. Dobbins, 228 S.W.3d at 765. In reaching this holding, our sister court considered Dobbins's conduct after his car first contacted Vest: Dobbins continued to drive with Vest on the hood long enough for Vest to pull his gun, yell at Dobbins to stop, and call for assistance, and, after stopping the car a second time, Dobbins left the scene. See id. In Dobbins, the Fourteenth Court held that sufficient evidence existed to support a finding that Dobbins threatened Officer Vest. Dobbins, 228 S.W.3d at 767. Dobbins drove the vehicle directly at Vest, stopped only when Vest commanded him to stop, and then started to drive forward again after Vest began walking to the driver's side of the car, hitting him. Id. at 766. Vest testified that he felt "very threatened" when Dobbins began driving toward him the second time, and the Fourteenth Court concluded that Vest's testimony "clearly demonstrates that Dobbins' conduct in driving the vehicle at Vest communicated a threat and that Vest perceived that threat." Id. at 766-67.