Tased and confused
I have gotten out of the habit of commenting on news items, the original reason I started doing this blog. But the tasing (some say tasering) of the now famous 4’ 11”, foulmouthed and angry 72 year old woman, in my own county of Travis, was too much to ignore.
Let me begin by saying that I am decidedly pro taser. That is because I am so anti-gun. The idea of being like Captain Kirk and setting a phaser on stun, thereby immobilizing, but not killing, your opponent has great appeal to me. I have never had a gun, but if a taser was worth anything I might buy one of those. I am told by my hunter friends that a taser is not worth a damn because the bad guy has time to shoot you when you have nothing but a slow moving taser, and you can’t fire them across the room. They advise me to get a gun, which I will never do. They need to understand that the odds of my killing myself or someone else in my house getting killed by a gun I may own are astronomically larger than the odds of someone breaking into my house with a gun and shooting me.
The question confronting us is whether this particular 270 pound constable should have tased the 72 year old lady, because the law does not allow him to bitch slap her, which was really the appropriate response to her behavior. We have all seen these old ladies, usually in line at a convenience store buying beer, cigarettes and lotto tickets. In small doses they are quite amusing, although their appeal wears out quickly. They get away with a lot that a man or a younger woman would not get away with. In this case the old lady, a.k.a. Ms. Katherine Winkfein, was doing 60 in a construction zone on Highway 71, the highway of death around these parts. That’s fifteen miles per hour over the speed limit and under Texas law, speeding in a construction zone calls for doubling any fine. I don’t know what set her off, but she was quite abrasive the minute she pulled over.
The big problem I have is that the Constable’s office (geez, you knew that it would be a constable and not a real cop) said that she emerged from her car. I don’t see how that could be when the tape clearly shows him opening her door, right before he shoved her (“to keep her out of the highway”). I suppose that he could have chosen to take her arm and move her back, but let us judge not. It was the shoving which really set Ms. Winkfien off, as it might have set me off, but I’m a lot more afraid of fat constables than is Ms. Winkfein. The cursing of the constable was a bad idea (that and her telling the news media that she never cursed him).Once you have been shoved by a constable it is good to be still for awhile.
One thing I know for sure, the old lady did not want to sign the ticket. What most people don’t know is that a ticket is given to you in lieu of an arrest and that you have to sign it in order to show that you understand that you have to report to a Judge later. Many people think that signing a ticket is a sign that you are guilty or, that you at least approve of what is going on. I’m pretty sure that’s what Ms. Winkfein thought. After she had been shoved ,she said that she would not sign the ticket, or perhaps the “fucking ticket” was the way she expressed herself, and then, for some reason, things broke down again, leading up to the electronic violence.
On the constable’s side of the scales of justice, he did tell her about half a dozen times that she would be tased if she did not start to cooperate, and she never did. So he tased her. Twice. Once when she appeared to be lying on the grown. The taser company explicitly warns you against tasing the elderly, perhaps shooting them with bullets is a better option. I am sure that the constable did not want to be seen on tape wrestling Winkfein to the ground, or perhaps he just felt that he could not take her. The taser may have been his only option.
So the great debate has started, one on which I believe reasonable minds can differ. Did she deserve the jolt ? The second jolt ? the problem with the issue is that “deserving a punishment” should not always equal getting it. If Ms. Winkfein had been, say, 85 years old, she could have done the same thing and no one would have dared draw on her. If she’d been a 25 year old man, no one would be complaining very loudly. In fact, here in Austin, we’d have been relieved that he was not shot and killed. If this had happened at a retirement village, like Sun City, about 25 miles away, the constable would have been too intimidated by the elderly gangs to pull the trigger. So much in life depends upon timing and chance.
I will say that I would not have done this. I don’t think a traffic offense is worth the danger. I would have found her address and sent someone over later to arrest her, once she had calmed down a bit. Of course, I have never been a cop, or even a constable. It is easy to make calls regarding shocking , mutilating and potentially killing senior citizens, members of the “Greatest Generation”, when you sit in the air conditioned comfort of a downtown Austin building. I am not out on those mean streets, fighting the hoodlum grannies day after day, not to mention the wild nights after the Social Security check are mailed out. What do I know ? Not much, but that has never stopped me from having a strong opinion.