A grand jury in Travis County, Texas, has chosen not to indict Deputy Constable Christopher Bieze on a charge of “injury to an elderly person,” the Austin Statesman reports. Last May, Bieze used his Taser gun to zap a 72-year-old woman after a routine traffic stop.
Kathryn Winkfein initially refused to sign the speeding ticket Bieze gave her, saying “Go on, take me to jail–a 72-year-old woman.” After the cop ordered her get out of her SUV so he could arrest her, and then shoved her back toward the road shoulder–reportedly to get her out of traffic–she shouted, “Give me the fucking thing and I’ll sign it.”
Winkfein has been described as “confrontational” by many news sources. (Others used “feisty,” that catch-all condescending term for pissed off old people.) But the footage from the Bieze’s dashboard camera shows a 4′ 11″ woman doing nothing more than making some scrappy remarks and staring down a burly cop a foot taller than she is. Yet he quickly began threatening to tase her if she didn’t back away. Winkfein replied “I dare you”–and a few moments later she was writhing on the ground, with Bieze screaming at her to get her hands behind her back. She was handcuffed, jailed, and charged with resisting arrest.
As the excellent Texas criminal justice blog Grits for Breakfast sums it up: “Supposedly he violated no policies, violated no laws, and yet the officer demonstrated a complete lack of discipline and restraint, basically using force on the angry 4’11” woman because she ‘dared’ him, not because she posed a threat to him or anyone else.”
Last fall Winkfein sued Travis County and accepted a $40,000 settlement. An internal investigation cleared Bieze, who is a deputy constable–a type of minor local cop that exercises more power in Texas than in most other states. And earlier this week, the grand jury let him off as well.
Take a look at this unedited video if you want to see what it’s all about. (FYI, after the first half nothing much happens–other than an old woman lying on the ground outside the frame, moaning intermittantly.)