The Travis County Constable’s Office has released the dashcam video of the tasering of 72-year-old Kathryn Winkfein by Deputy Chris Bieze. We previously discussed this story but the video is highly disturbing in the decision to shoot the 4’11” great grandmother. Before he fires the weapon, Winkfein responds to Bieze’s threat to taser with an “I dare you.” He didn’t need a double dare.
The video clearly shows an uncooperative and belligerent Winkfein. However, as we have often discussed on this blog (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here), officers now routinely use tasers when there is a failure to obey commands — a casual use of the weapon that has resulted in injuries and abuse in some cases.
The incident occurred on May 11th when Winkfein was stopped going 60 mph in a 45 mph zone. When she gets out of her truck, Bieze pushes her away from traffic. Winkfein immediately used her age and gender to taunt Bieze. “You’re gonna shove a 72-year-old woman.” Bieze is clearly dealing with an unpleasant situation and belligerent individual. However, he quickly escalates the situation and threatens to taser her. He tells her, “if you don’t step back, you’re going to get Tased,” Bieze says. She then responds with “Go ahead, Tase me, I dare you.” He appears to take her up on the dare.
I do not see how the police could view this as a proper use of a taser. Bieze threatens to taser her again if she does not put her hands behind her back. He then tasers her again. He then charges her with resisting arrest.
The video is a textbook example of how tasers have served to escalate the level of force in such encounters. While Bieze might have called for back up or physically restrained Winkfein, he moves almost immediately to the use of the taser. The fact that Constable McCain would watch this video and find (here) that Bieze acted properly raises serious questions of his own judgment.
We previously blogged on the case of Jared Massey, a 72-year-old great grandfather who was tasered for refusing to sign a ticket. He was awarded $40,000 as compensation for the assault by Trooper Jon Gardner.
For the full story, click here.