Great-grandma Kathryn “Sue” Winkfein comes across as an awfully nice, polite woman. So just how did this 4-foot-11 72-year-old wind up getting Tasered by a cop?
“I just lost my temper; I do that maybe twice a year, but that day I just lost it,” Winkfein told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Tuesday about the May 11 incident, when a sheriff’s constable leveled her with a Taser gun during what had started out as a routine traffic stop.
The retired schoolteacher, who holds a master’s degree, appeared alongside her son, Steve Eastland, and her attorney, Thomas Tourtellotte. Winkfein recently received an out-of-court, $40,000 settlement from Travis County, Texas, for her pain and suffering — which has the county’s constables crying foul.
‘Take me to jail!’
Constable Christopher Bieze pulled Winkfein over after he spotted her driving 60 mph through a 45-mph construction zone along a Travis County highway. As his dashboard camera footage shows, when Bieze asked her to sign a ticket guaranteeing her appearance in court, Winkfein snapped back, “Take me to jail. Go on, take me to jail — a 72-year-old woman!”
Bieze then ordered Winkfein out of her pickup truck so he could arrest her. Then things got ugly.
When Winkfein walked toward a busy highway lane, Bieze shoved her back toward the shoulder. She shouted at Bieze, “Give me the f---ing [ticket] and I’ll sign it.” But by now the situation had escalated to the point where Bieze threatened to Taser her. She shot back, “Go ahead, Tase me!”
Winkfein then announced she was getting back in her car. After more shoving and shouting, Bieze made good on his threat — he Tasered Winkfein twice, sending her crumpling to the ground. Her cries of pain were captured on the dash-cam.
Firing back — in court
Hundreds of thousands viewed the Texas Tasing on YouTube, and Winkfein became something of a national celebrity. She also became a complainant in court, filing a $135,000 civil suit against the county for pain, suffering and humiliation.
Not wanting a dragged-out court case that could ring up a huge bill, county officials instead offered Winkfein an out-of-court settlement of $40,000. Two weeks ago, Winkfein accepted it.
Travis County Constable Richard McCain told NBC he believed the settlement was a miscarriage of justice. “When the county wrote a check for $40,000, we rewarded this defendant for bad behavior, which is wrong,” he said.
When Lauer asked Winkfein if she believed she deserved the award, she said, “I don’t know that I have an opinion on that. I’m not a money person, you know what I’m saying? But then Steve and I go, ‘Well, even poor people don’t like being poor.’ But we’re not a greedy type.’ ”