Tasing of 72-year-old woman was appropriate,
By Isadora Vail , Patrick George
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Travis County law enforcement officials are standing behind the actions of a constable who used a Taser on a 72-year-old woman during a May traffic stop, saying the officer acted properly in a dangerous situation.
Deputy Constable Christopher Beize used a Taser on Kathryn Winkfein after she resisted arrest when he pulled her over for speeding, according to an incident report.
Winkfein was driving west on Texas 71 in western Travis County on May 11 when Beize pulled her over, the report says.
Beize wrote a citation for Winkfein for going 60 mph in a 45 mph construction zone, but the 4-foot-11-inch woman refused to sign it and told Beize that he was "going to have to take her to jail," the document says. Beize told her she was going to be arrested for refusing to promise to appear by signing the top of the citation, the report says.
At that point, Winkfein got out of the truck and began to yell profanities at Beize, an arrest affidavit says.
She yelled at Beize to give her the citation and said she would sign it but was not following commands, the report says. Beize said Winkfein tried to take his ticket book away, telling Beize to Tase her or take her to jail, according to the affidavit. As Beize was trying to arrest her, she tried to get back in her truck, the affidavit says.
Sgt. Maj. Gary Griffin of the constable's office said Winkfein was belligerent, pushed Beize into oncoming traffic and nearly stepped into it herself. "She was using language I wouldn't expect any woman to use, let alone a 72-year-old woman," Griffin said.
She continued to not listen to Beize's demands and was Tased, the incident report says. She was Tased again after not staying on the ground, as commanded, according to the report.
An ambulance was called to evaluate Winkfein, and she was not found to have any irregularities, according to court documents. She was taken to 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.
Taser International recommends not using the weapon on people who are physically infirm or elderly. It was not known late Tuesday what the Taser policy is for constable deputies.
Winkfein could not be reached for comment.
Griffin said Beize did the right thing in dealing with a subject who refused to be arrested and put them both in harm's way.
Beize has been a peace officer since 1994 and is a Taser instructor, Griffin said.
Winfein's "actions were inappropriate," Griffin said.
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