Wednesday, March 31, 2010

No consequences whatsoever for deputy constable tazing great-grandma

Tony Plohetski at the Austin Statesman reports:

A Travis County grand jury has declined to indict Deputy Constable Christopher Bieze on a charge of injury to an elderly person after he used his Taser stun gun on a 72-year-old woman last year.

The incident, which was captured on a patrol car video camera, generated national attention. Kathryn Winkfein, who was stopped by Bieze on May 11, later appeared NBC's "Today" show.

In October, Winkfein accepted a $40,000 settlement from Travis County, although she had sought more than $135,000.

Bieze had stopped her on Texas 71 in western Travis County on May 11 for allegedly driving 60 mph in a 45-mph construction zone. Winkfein, a 4-foot-11 great-grandmother from Granite Shoals, told Bieze that she wouldn't sign the citation, video records show.

That led to a confrontation during which Bieze used his Taser on Winkfein, who was later jailed, charged with resisting arrest and released.

An internal investigation found that Bieze had violated no policies, and he was not disciplined.

Supposedly he violated no policies, violated no laws, and yet the officer demonstrated a complete lack of discipline and restraint, basically using force on the angry 4'11" woman because she "dared" him, not because she posed a threat to him or anyone else. This is one of several incidents that have led many to believe deputy constables should not be involved in day to day police work. For a refresher on the case, here's Stephen Colbert's take:

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Pausanias said...

It's certainly not the world i like to live in, but i guess ours is just a society that does not mind its law enforcement to be gratuitously violent.

Anonymous said...

Oh good grief, Grits! You're surprised the officer was no-billed? Even a bunch of liberal Travis County grand jurors realize that Granny should have listened to the officer, took the ticket and kept her mouth shut. This is not a complicated issued and only people who think it's their God given right to be belligerant to the police are even remotely concerned this lady got tazed.

Ever seen Chris Rock's video about how to keep from getting your ass kicked by the police? There's a lot of wisdom there in a funny sort of way!

Anonymous said...

The anonymous before me shows clearly the problems posed between normative and descriptive.

Worse, that poster, apparently, finds it unremarkable and perfectly fine for (just?) cops to use tasers as pain-compliance tools for trivial things. One wonders who else should be able to apply pain to force compliance with trivial demands - teachers? Mall security?

The lesson, in any case is clear - "keep your mouth shut", or have it shut for you by a painful tasering. I wonder if Anonymous would feel the same way about a beating for granny - after all, that was the old-fashioned way. Cops like tasers better because they don't leave bruises and contusions.

As Pausanias said, not a world I like to live in.

Anonymous said...

I know that years ago police received training in verbal deescalation. There are ways to talk with most people who are angry and upset that will calm them down and prevent the situation from becoming physical. I don't know if they have just stopped training police in these methods or what has happened but it seems now the officer are ready at a moments notice to use pepper spray, tazers, or other force on anyone who speaks to them in a manner they don't like. If someone is too thin skinned to take a little verbal belligerence they shouldn't be a police officer. It seems that nowadays most police officers are thin-skinned, lack people skills, and are just looking for an excuse to use force against someone.

To the person who said the lady should have kept her mouth shut, when did we lose the right to express our displeasure to public officials in this country? Was there a supreme court decision doing away with freedom of speech I was unaware of? Police should know that citizens have a right to verbally express themselves. As long as they don't get physical they should not be subjected to physical force for expressing their opinion. If we've gotten to the point that police are exalted, privileged officials who cannot be criticized, I just don't know. More and more I'm coming to realize that we no longer live in a free country.

Anonymous said...

Police have no choice but to arrest people that won't sign citations. Granny was in the wrong when she refused to sign and she was going to be arrested if she didn't. That being said, any male that can't restrain a tiny little granny without resorting to a taser shouldn't have a badge. Of course, the reason that most people become constables is that they can't get jobs as security guards. They are very poorly trained, just enough to get licensed by TCLOSE. Constables really should go back to serving papers and leave law enforcement to professionals.

Anonymous said...

Actually, 8:21. I think you're wrong. The citation doesn't have to be signed. The signature is only a promise to appear. The citation is still valid and enforceable without a signature. I may be wrong, but I think the only thing not signing does is prevents the person from being charged with failure to appear. They still have to answer to the charge they were cited for.

Hoof said...

It's Granny! Set phasers on stun!

Anonymous said...

8:48 a.m., you are correct.

The TASER has its place in law enforcement, just as batons, mace and pistols do, but I guess for some lazy or sadistic cops it's sometimes easier to taze.

Ride the lightening, Focker!

Anonymous said...

There's a difference between voicing displeasure and acting like a fool. Unfortunately for the constable, there is no penal code citation for Aggravated Dumb@$$. Great-grandma was guilty of that in the least.

Don't mistake the above as condoning what he did. Dude was out of line 100%.

Jackie said...

Oh, I just l0vE Steven Colbert <3 <3

We didn't really expect the constable to face any 'consequences', now did we ?
xD (i left town before he got his tazer out)

Anonymous said...

This guy makes the reputation for law enforcement. Please don't gripe about it later if you don't like the way officers are perceived.

Anonymous said...

It IS your right to be (verbally) belligerent to the police. As soon as it gets physical, that is another issue entirely.

Anonymous said...

11:43, exactly.

Tazing people for non-compliance that DOES NOT pose a direct threat to person or property has no place in law enforcement and is an effing embarrassment.


Anonymous said...

11:43 a.m.,

It IS NOT your "right" to be verbally beligerent to a cop! Your right is to remain silent and not make any statements. Just because the guy is a government employee does not give you the right to be verbally belligerent. It may be permissible, but it surely is not a right.

Get over yourself, sign the ticket, be on your way and make a fool out of him in court.

Anonymous said...

11:43, Last I heard, Freedom of Speech is still a right.

Anonymous said...

There's a link on Drudge to a story where poplice Tazered a 10 yr old boy. These officers are like a kid with a new toy. Maybe they'll get tired of playing with it soon.

Texas Law Enforcement Blog said...

You do have the right not to sign the ticket. However under Texas law the law enforcement officer has to take you directly to a magistrate or to jail if a magistrate is not immidiately available.

For those who wish to test this law, please don't sign the ticket.

I'm not saying that I wouldn't have handled the situation differently but I was just clearing up the myths about signing traffic tickets or any tickets.

This is really not a freedom of speech issue.