Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Thomas Newell Runs Program that Combats Drunk Driving Arrested for DUI

The man who runs Sonoma County's program that combats drunken driving has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, police said.

Thomas Newell, 53, was arrested in Santa Rosa about 3 p.m. Friday after an off-duty firefighter spotted a Mercedes-Benz driving recklessly on Bodega Highway, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The firefighter flagged down a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy, who pulled Newell over, the CHP said. A CHP officer responded as well and concluded that Newell was under the influence of a drug, authorities said.

Newell was arrested and booked into Sonoma County Jail. The results of a blood test will not be available for several weeks, said CHP Officer Jonathan Sloat.

Newell manages the county Health Services Department's programs on driving under the influence and drug treatment, according to the agency's Web site.

72-Year-Old Great Grandmother Tasered for Speeding

A traffic stop for speeding in Travis County, Texas, led to the Tasering of a 72-year-old great-grandmother by a deputy. Feisty Kathryn Winkfein apparently so frightened the law-enforcement officer when she "used some profanity" and "got violent" that he felt it necessary to subdue her with a potentially dangerous jolt of electricity.

Winkfein was reportedly doing 60 in a construction zone where the posted speed limit was 45 when she was pulled over. She was ticketed but declined to sign the ticket, leading the police officer to place her under arrest lest civilization collapse for want of the surrender of a penny's worth of ink.

At this point, the stories diverge. According to Precinct 3 Constable Richard McCain, Winkfein cursed and refused to cooperate. She says nothing of the sort occurred. "I wasn't argumentative, I was not combative. This is a lie," the woman told a news reporter for Fox 7.

Either way, it's difficult to see how the issuance of a speeding ticket to an elderly woman devolved to the point where a grown, trained law-enforcement officer could be considered justified in subjecting the speeder to an electric jolt intended to disrupt her nervous system -- no matter what command of profanity she displayed.

Given that the speeding ticket had already been issued, it's also difficult to understand what purpose was served by prolonging the encounter and demanding a signature. A similar incident in Utah in 2007 between a state trooper and a motorist also resulted in a Tasering after the driver declined to sign a speeding ticket. In that case, the officer escalated the matter to a violent conclusion even though Utah law doesn't actually require a signature. Texas law apparently follows the same reasoning, considering the signature merely a promise to appear in court, not a necessity for the validity of the ticket itself.

Jared Massey, the Utah motorist, was ultimately awarded $40,000 as compensation for the abuse he suffered at the hands of Trooper Jon Gardner.

After being Tasered along the road for failing to put pen to paper, Kathryn Winkfein was taken to jail and booked for resisting arrest and detention. Not surprisingly, she's hired a lawyer.

other information: http://www.drudge.com/news/121622/72-year-old-tasered-traffic-stop

youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15YExclX4Gc