Austin, TX - It is a story that has quickly spread around the world. An Austin, Texas confrontation between a 72-year old grandmother and a police officer in what should have been a simple traffic stop turned ugly very quickly. When "granny" refused to sign the speeding ticket, the nice officer shot her with his Taser gun. Twice.
"Chris Bieze," (reportedly a Travis County sheriff's deputy) "stopped Kathryn Winkfein for driving at 60 mph (97 km/h) in a 45-mile-per-hour construction zone west of Austin." (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=97762§ionid=3510212)
Here we go again. Another overzealous "peace" officer is trigger happy with his Taser gun. The Today Show's Matt Lauer favors the Tasering of the old woman, while his cohost, CNBC's Erin Burnett, seems skeptical.
Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton was not in his office today, and could not be reached for comment. But I did speak with a staff member (who asked to remain annonymous), and he said the Sheriff's office "....does not condone Constable Bieze's actions", and further that, "Chris Bieze is not a member of this office. He is a Constable in another precinct."
A check on the Travis County Sheriff's Office website (http://www.tcsheriff.org) shows a link to "Constable's Use of Force". This sends the viewer to a one-page statement submitted by Roger Wade, Public Information Officer that quotes Sheriff Hamilton as saying, "...I do not personally agree with the actions of the Deputy Constable as they are shown in the video." This is apparently a reference to the video shot from the squad car during the traffic stop. (http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2009/06/should_police_have_tasered_72y.html)
Interestingly, the dashboard video tells a different story than an initial local news report that aired before the footage became available. In a Fox Channel 7 news segment with reporter Keri Bellacosa, Precinct 3 Constable Richard McCain staunchly defends the Deputy for his use of force against the "violent" great-grandmother. Kathryn Winkfein was charged with "resisting arrest and detention MSD/A", a misdemeanor she is calling "all lies". The video appears to back her up.
It shows Constable Chris Bieze screaming, "Get over here now!" Winkfein replies, "Give [the ticket] to me and I'll sign it." Instead, the officer reaches out and pushes her, and she starts complaining, "Oh, you're going to shove me? You're going to shove a seventy-two year old woman?"
Bieze then Tasers her. As Winkfein lies on the ground screaming, he orders, "Now put your hands behind your back. Put your hands behind your back or you're going to be Tasered again." She gets Tasered again.
Fox's Brian Kilmeade commented after running the video, "Officers insisted they acted by the book. What book is that?"
Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton says, "When I look at the video, I am in awe of what happened." I don't think I would have used just those words. The word "shocked" comes to mind (pun intended).
Beware all Travis County grandmothers; stay in your vehicle and lock your doors when stopped by a Deputy Constable. If you have to hand over a license, do so through a window slightly ajar.
And never sass or backtalk the nice officer.