Saturday, January 2, 2010

Don't Mess with Texas Law!

Even those in other countries have heard the phrase, "Don't Mess with Texas!" Well, I have a new one for you, "Don't Mess with Texas Law."

For years, the Austin (Travis County, Texas) Police Department has been called on the carpet repeatedly for police brutality and unjustified shootings. We just buried a young man last week that police shot when the young man reached to pull up his baggy pants. The police officer that killed him stated he thought the young man might be reaching for a gun. The officer will likely go free as the law gives him the same rights as it does any other citizen to defend himself with deadly force if he believes that his life "might be in danger."

Sometimes things can get a little out hand. Back in May a Travis County constable used a Taser on a 4-foot-11-inch, 72-year-old grandma, who the officer stated was belligerent during the traffic stop.

Deputy Constable (and Taser instructor) Christopher Beize used his Taser on Kathryn Winkfein after she became confrontational when he pulled her over for going 60-mph in a 45-mph construction zone. She had driven the highway each day and stated that she simply did not see the construction zone signs and thus did not know to slow down. The construction signs, are left up 24-7, even long after the workers quit work.

When Grandma declined to sign the citation, the officer stated that she was under arrest, opened the door and dragged the woman out of her truck. As the constable dragged Grandma from her truck, she called him some choice names. But, she also told him to give her the citation and she would sign it. She reached for the ticket book and the officer pulled out his Taser and used it on Grandma.

Grandma fell to the ground in pain, and when she tried to get up, the deputy constable shot her again with another Taser.

An ambulance was called to evaluate Winkfein, and she was not found to have any irregularities, according to court documents. She was arrested, taken to the Travis County Jail and charged with a Class A misdemeanor of resisting arrest and detention, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

Sgt. Maj. Gary Griffin of the constable's office said the deputy constable acted properly in a dangerous incident in doing the right thing in dealing with a subject who refused to be arrested and put them both in harm's way. "Her actions were inappropriate," Griffin said of Grandma.

Frankly, I believe that the deputy constable should be embarrassed that harsh words from a 4-foot-11-inch, 72-year-old grandma could cause him to lose his cool and act with such violence. I hope he doesn't get reprimanded by his own grandma for forgetting to wipe his shoes after playing in the back yard.

Really now, how difficult would it be for a trained deputy constable to physically restrain Grandma. Unnecessary force? I think so!

Another mark against law enforcement. Score one for Grandma! Elect that woman Governor of Texas!