Patterico's Pontifications

10/1/2009

Tasered Granny Offered Settlement

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 7:19 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

You may remember this earlier post about a May 2009 traffic stop in which a Texas constable tasered a 72-year-old grandmother. Here’s an update:

“Deputy Constable Christopher Bieze pulled over Kathryn Winkfein’s 2004 Toyota pickup on Texas 71 in western Travis County on May 11 for allegedly driving 60 mph in a 45-mph construction zone. Winkfein, of Granite Shoals, a 4-foot-11 great-grandmother, told Bieze in the video that she wouldn’t sign the citation.

That led to a confrontation in which Bieze threatened to use his stun gun on Winkfein unless she complied with his orders. She dared him to use it, and he eventually did.

Winkfein was later jailed, charged with resisting arrest and released.”

The charges against Winkfein are still under review but the constable was apparently cleared:

“The incident is still being reviewed by the Travis County district attorney’s office. The resisting-arrest charge is pending, said Precinct 3 Constable Richard McCain, who is Bieze’s supervisor.

An internal investigation was conducted, McCain said. No violations were found, and Bieze, who is the Taser instructor in the constable’s office, was not disciplined, McCain said: “He hasn’t done anything wrong.”

Winkfein reportedly has demanded compensation for “pain and suffering, her medical expenses and the humiliation she suffered.” She also wants the county to “review its policies and guidelines for the use of Tasers on elderly people and others at higher risk.” Her last demand of $135,000 was rejected by the Travis County commissioners but yesterday they offered to settle for $40,000, describing it as a fair settlement compared to similar cases.

— DRJ

25 Responses to “Tasered Granny Offered Settlement”

  1. What’s interesting about this is the difference in response from some parts of the country. For instance, the Boston Herald headline writer and comments seem critical of the police — one even labels the constable a modern-day Barney Fyfe [sic]. Meanwhile, comments at Texas news websites (such as this and this) are not sympathetic to the grandmother’s claims. Ms. Winkfein’s attorney may want to keep that in mind if they are considering taking this to trial.

    DRJ (b008f8)

  2. “She dared him to use it, and he eventually did.”

    I would like to imagine Andy Taylor saying, “Please mam, just sign the ticket and we can both be on our way” and that would be that.

    Not to open this can of worms again, especially with so many more important topics around, but is there any good way to physically apprehend a great grandmother who refuses to cooperate? I doubt it.

    Simply twisting to get away from her arm being held could cause a broken hip. (Many falls and broken hips by the elderly in colder climates actually begin with the broken hip. The force of muscle torque on bone while trying to maintain balance on ice causes the hip to break, then the person falls.)

    MD in Philly (d4f9fa)

  3. Thanks for the links, DRJ. Reading the comments demonstrates that Texans expect grandmothers to obey the law.

    MD in Philly (d4f9fa)

  4. So the police department whitewashed the case. So, what else is new? The lady should continue her lawsuit and add a count to have the cop abated as a public nuisance.

    nk (df76d4)

  5. You know, “Tasered Granny” would be an excellent name for a rock group.

    Dave (in MA) (d51df8)

  6. I’m pretty sure I don’t like living in a country that is happy to have its storm troopers taze 72 year old women for failing to sign their papers.

    If I was on the citizen review panel or whatever they call it there, that gutless worm of an officer would be fired and every storm trooper on the force trained by him in the use of tazers would undergo mandatory retraining.

    Willing to settle for $40k without accepting any blame and they’re not at fault? Sure. Good job officer. Your insane ferocity to get that woman to sign a $200 ticket just cost your local citizenry an awful lot of money.

    Curtis (653a53)

  7. Hey, Curtis, were you calling law enforcement officers who were enforcing the laws clones of Mr Fett or Nazis?

    I, for one, am of the Texan approach. Obey the law. I don’t care how old you are, obey the law. And if you don’t obey the law, pay the price. I don’t care how old you are, pay the price.

    And it wasn’t the officer’s wholly sane and legal and correct actions that are at issue. It is the entire moral relativism (which is self-contradictory at onset) of a perverse society that is at issue.

    Do try harder next time.

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  8. Three abbreviated stories I remember from years ago:

    1. A property-owner has a problem with idiots driving through his yard, tearing it up. So he adds spikes to his yard. The vandals drive through his yard and the spikes do the trick. The vandals take the victim to civil court and a jury of 12 idiots make the victim give his hard-earned money over to the vandals.

    2. A home-owner has suffered break-ins, so he puts boards with nails beneath his windows, inside his home. A would-be burglar impales his feet on the nails and takes the victim to court. A jury of 12 idiots forces the victim to give his hard-earned money over to the burglar.

    3. A jewelry store has a button to drop a gate of bars in the event of a robbery so as to keep the robbers within until the police arrive. It is put into use as a robber escapes. The robber lost his hand due to the gate-of-bars but escaped. He was later apprehended at a hospital. He sued the victim in civil court and a jury of 12 forced the victim to pay hard-earned money to the robber.

    These are stories that I cannot verify, and may well be urban legends. But they point directly to the bankrupt “moral relativism” shown by far too many morally-deprived individuals who wish to hold the criminal blameless while holding the victim or the law enforcer guilty.

    And when it comes to “moral relativists,” I say gloves off. Like I said, “moral relativism” is self-defeating and any who hold a candle to that foolish notion deserve to be mocked. And, gloves off.

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  9. I guess I missed the Commandment “Thou shalt sign thy traffic citation”. Is it in Deuteronomy?

    The only moral issue I see is some peckerwood bullying an old woman over a piddly administrative requirement. My state does not require the driver to sign the ticket just as it does not require defendants in more serious cases to sign the summonses, complaints, or warrants. It makes absolutely no difference whether a defendant signs that he will show up in court — the important thing is that he is court on his trial date.

    As for the three stories in Comment #8, it sounds like they could have happened. It’s against the law in most states to set booby-traps. That is a moral issue. A booby trap does not have the capacity to judge whether force likely to cause death or great bodily harm is necessary in any given situation.

    nk (df76d4)

  10. “If I was on the citizen review panel or whatever they call it there, that gutless worm of an officer would be fired and every storm trooper on the force trained by him in the use of tazers would undergo mandatory retraining.” Curtis #6

    Curtis – that “gutless worm of an officer” was TRYING to keep crazy grandma from running out into the street where she would have gotten herself run over. Had he let her go you would have been all over him for letting a poor old granny run into the street! And if he had tried to physically stop her someone like you would have cried physical abuse – and God forbid she break a hip while trying to twist out of his grasp as #2 says.

    BD (da911f)

  11. So what if the cop did not have a stun gun? What if he only had a firearm and a baton (or large flashlight as they are wont to do)?

    Would he be justified in pointing the gun at her and asking again for her to sign, or should he smack her around with the baton? Why not just be done and shoot the smart-ass bitch?

    What she did was WRONG. He used excessive force.

    He is supposed to know better. End of story.

    Dr. K (eca563)

  12. I do not know if in Texas one is required to sign the ticket or not. If not, he didn’t need to do anything, I guess. If one is required, was he to let her go, or what would you have him do? Because as I said before, there is no “safe” way to handle an elderly person who wants to fight you, and next to traffic no less.

    MD in Philly (d4f9fa)

  13. You are required to sign the ticket in Texas.

    BD (da911f)

  14. Yes, you are required to sign the ticket in Texas. Maybe this case will get the legislature or the Texas Supreme Court to change the rule.

    If one is required, was he to let her go, or what would you have him do?
    Comment by MD in Philly — 10/2/2009 @ 7:01 am

    I suppose I would have followed her home, surrounded her house with a SWAT team, ordered an airstrike with incendiary bombs on her house, and machinegunned her down as she tried to escape the flames.

    nk (df76d4)

  15. Comment by John Hitchcock:

    “I, for one, am of the Texan approach. Obey the law. I don’t care how old you are, obey the law. And if you don’t obey the law, pay the price. I don’t care how old you are, pay the price.”

    No, the Texan approach is for the prosecutor and the judge to bang each other, and the higher courts to have no problem with that. The Texan approach is to execute a man for a housefire, and to fire people who notice that it was based on junk science.

    F*ck the Texan approach.

    Barry (9ef9c1)

  16. nk-

    I appreciate your humor, but I don’t know if you’re acknowledging my point or not.

    Since she is required to sign the ticket, and she won’t, the officer can decide to let her go “because it’s not worth it”, but then he could see a headline how the County Sheriff’s office was intimidated by a little ol’ lady.

    Simply taking her arm to putt handcuffs on her could break her wrist or arm if she fought. (Little ‘ol thin white ladies are among those at high risk for osteoporosis, especially if she smoked as well.)

    On one hand the situation seems ridiculous for such a fuss over a “piddly administrative requirement”. But on the other hand, one of DRJ’s links has a post pointing out that the location in question had a history of fatal accidents and was being rebuilt to make it safer. Letting people “get away” with speeding in a work zone could get real consequential real fast.

    So, I’m not saying it was a great thing to do, I’m just saying that the choice was to let her go and flaunt the law and then get chewed out by his supervisor (at least), or to do some kind of physical apprehension. Would it have been safer to call in more officers so she could be better, and more safely, controlled? Sure. But how many officers and cars do you want to commit to arresting one great grandmother who was speeding.

    MD in Philly (d4f9fa)

  17. Comment by nk — 10/2/2009 @ 10:18 am

    Are you sure you’re not from Philly?

    AD - RtR/OS! (3d0577)

  18. MD in Philly,

    There were choices in between. The officer was extremely reactive and provocative in the video I saw. He could have been more patient and calm, talked to her instead of bullying her, and reasoned with her. If nothing else, he would have outlasted her. Old people don’t have all that much energy for a prolonged fight.

    nk (df76d4)

  19. Thank you for that stunningly witty comment, Barry. When you are done arguing with the caricatures in your head, let us know.

    The rest of you are bootlicking authoritarians who lurvs some police violence.

    JD (1cb1b5)

  20. nk,

    I agree with your points, I was looking at the more circumscribed aspect of it.

    Yes, there are ways of interacting with people that set off a power struggle from which there is no good resolution. The answer to that is to not get into it in the first place, and a review of “situation management” or some such would be reasonable, if it would help. FWIW, when a power struggle really erupts it is usually because both parties have the same make-up.

    Are you sure you’re not from Philly?
    AD – RtR/OS!

    That was a while ago now, and they were guilty of a little more than not signing a speeding ticket, but the reference works.

    MD in Philly (d4f9fa)

  21. […] Kathryn Winkfein, the 72-year-old Texas grandmother who was tasered by a Texas constable, has accepted the $40,000 settlement offered by the Travis County, Texas, commissioners. Her resisting arrest charge is still pending but I suspect it will be dismissed. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Tasered Granny Takes $40K Settlement (e4ab32)

  22. ….okay…enough already.everybody has an opinion and feels that is the right one….but heres a thinking point:
    Granted shes 76,granted we(or most of us)were raised to respect our elders….but seriously…everyone is upset because she was “mistreated”.If we belitteled every officer when ppl considered thier actions”unethical” what is the point of having laws?What is it you ppl feel should be the laws then?If your over 55 you should be able to get away with breaking the laws everyone under that age has to abide by?So then by all rights according to you guys-the ppl running things like Waco shouldn’t be held accountable because he was in his fifties?or better yet:the lady that killed her 3yr old and her 5yr old lived because he could run away-she shouldn’t be in trouble for that because she”had a bad day and lost her temper”come on its time we stand behind law enforcement or not bitch when the crime ends up being against you yourself.Evidently,if she would’ve hit and killed someone it would’ve been okay to because she’s 76yrs old.If it had been anyone younger all of you would’ve said that they got what they deserved-yes she’s 76 and that tells me that she is more than old enough to know better than to argue with an officer of the law over a speeding ticket and think she can get by with physically assulting an officer-but yet the officer is the bad guy because he is doing his job.Nice try ppl..but you need to decide if you want laws or not because it can’t go both ways depending on what you want at the time.

    concerned in Iowa (068088)

  23. Some of you people are missing several main points! She wasn’t Tasered for having a filthy mouth! She was Tasered because she refused to sign the ticket. By Texas law, you have to sign the ticket as a ‘promise to appear’. If you do NOT sign and promise to appear, you go to jail and have to post bond to get out and that bond is your ‘promise to appear’ or you forfeit the bond if you fail to appear.

    Another point you are missing is that she failed to obey several direct commands by the officer. That gets you in serious trouble every time. Her stupid efforts to get back in her car and leave when told she was under arrest is called evading arrest! That is a criminal offense!

    The video shows she was trying to push past the officer and he shoved her back. She was trying to enter a lane of traffic and endangered her life and the officer’s life. Another stupid move on her part and the officer pushed her back for her own safety.

    I don’t care if she was 72, tiny, frail, grandmother, a 6’6″ 280 lb. linebacker, 25 yr. old white, black, green or purple male, you do all the things she did and you are going to be Tased! She got what she deserved by the Tasing but $40,000 more than she deserved in the award! She brought the pain, suffering and humiliation on herself! And remember, she got the $40,000 only because it would have cost the county much more to defend it, NOT because she was right! The criminal case is still pending and I hope the judge throws the book at her for resisting arrest, speeding in a construction zone, refusing on officer’s commands, assaulting a police officer while he was in the course of his duties and attempting to flee! I’m sorry she can’t be charged with being totally stupid! She is a disgrace to the senior population! Shame on you granny! Give the $40,000 back if you are really honest! You know you don’t deserve it! You were a criminal at the time you were arrested!

    To AZrancher, too bad you appoint yourself as judge and jury. You decide who is OK to let go and then think you’ll track them down later and give them or a family member a warning? I thought you were appointed to uphold the law? It’s a good thing you are retired. You wouldn’t survive on today’s streets!

    To the other’s who think all cops are bullies, it sounds like you were arrested and thought you could act like this stupid old granny did. If so, I hope 2 things for you. One, is that you were Tasered too. And two, I hope you can’t get a cop to save your sorry butt when you need him to. If you don’t act like a crook, you won’t get treated like one!

    To the others that think it was excessive force, do you really think the officer should have tackled her and forced her to the ground? Remember, she was under arrest and refused to comply with ANY order! Should he have pepper sprayed her? Would it have mattered to her or her attorney? I doubt it. She’d have sued no matter what. And the very painful effects of pepper spray last far longer than the Taser which is over in seconds! Sure, both hurt but they have to in order to be effective. If you don’t want to know the effects of either, OBEY the officer! If he’s wrong, prove it in court! You can’t just walk away or drive away without the consequences! Lastly, use some common sense! Don’t be stupid like granny was!

    Paladin (0fd20b)

  24. […] woman deserved every penny of the $40,000 settlement she apparently got from the […]

    Random Nuclear Strikes » You know, I hate plaintiffs’ lawyers, but… (ef57be)

  25. […] incident happened in May 2009. I originally posted on it here with follow-up posts here and […]

    Patterico's Pontifications » No Indictment for Texas Constable Who Tasered Granny (e4ab32)


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