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Sign violation leads to tasering

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

(Editor’s note: I have contacted the woman involved in this incident and she requested that her name not be used in this article. Because of the nature of the incident, the Courier will respect her wishes.)

An incident that began with a probable violation of a city sign ordinance ended with a senior woman being tased and taken to a hospital in Kerrville.
At approximately 9:50 am, Monday, May 16, Deputy Marshal Willie Smith, who also doubles as a city code inspector, noticed a violation of a sign ordinance at 1311 Cypress Street. In his subsequent report of the incident, Smith wrote, “I observed two banners displayed outside the business.” He found no record of active permits allowing the banners to be displayed.
Smith entered the store and spoke with a female who appeared to be an employee. Smith was wearing his marshal’s uniform – which identified him as a peace officer employed by the City of Bandera.
According to the report, Smith informed the employee of the violation and asked her to remove the banners until the business owners could apply for a permit that would enable them to be displayed legally. The female employee removed the banners.
However, after returning to (the front of) the store, she refused to identify herself for the report and, in Smith’s words, “became very aggressive and argumentative.”
He noted that because she had removed the banners, she was regarded as a witness to the code violation. “I needed to identify her for the report,” Smith added. “I advised her that she was required by law to give me her name.”
Following the woman into the store, Smith advised her said her name and date of birth. “She continued to refuse to give me her name and stated that she did not want her name in any reports in this county,” Smith wrote.
In an interview, the woman explained that she had refused to give out her personal information as requested because she didn’t want it to be broadcast over the police radio. “I also didn’t want to give out my information in a public forum,” she added.
Apparently, the verbal sparring between the officer and employee continued for several minutes until the situation escalated.
Describing the following sequence of events, Smith wrote, “I then ordered her to place her hands behind her back and stepped towards her. She moved away from me, pulling her hands away. I grabbed her by her arms and attempted to place them behind her back. She pulled her arms inward towards her body and twisted her body trying to get away from my grasp. I continued to order her to place her hands behind her back and she continued to pull away from me.”
At this point, due to her age, Smith feared more forceful measures might injure the woman. He requested backup from Marshal Will Dietrich.
According to the report, the still-struggling employee “dropped her weight to the floor,” while Smith still held onto her arms. “The female subject stated she had metal in her neck and that I was hurting her. I continually asked her not to resist and not to cause me to hurt her,” Smith wrote. Throughout the incident, Smith noted the woman “screamed profanities and insults” at him.
When Dietrich arrived at the scene, he also asked the woman several times to place her hands behind her back, which she refused to do. Dietrich then drew his Taser and advised the woman she would be tased if she failed to comply with orders. After the female subject continued to resist and scream, Dietrich tased her in the abdomen. As Dietrich deployed the Taser, the woman kicked him in the shins multiple times, according to the report.
After the electrical shock, the woman rolled onto her stomach and put her hands behind her back for cuffing. After placing her in double locked cuffs, Smith checked them for fit.
Dietrich notified emergency dispatch about the situation and requested that an EMS unit be deployed to the scene. After the woman indicated she was having difficulty breathing while lying down, Smith assisted her to a sitting position. Although he continued to attempt to learn her identity, the woman allegedly said, “You’re taking me to jail, you can get it then.”
After Bandera EMS arrived, she identified herself and asked EMS to transport her to a hospital.
Smith informed the woman he intened to pursue charges against her for failing to identify and for resisting arrest. He removed the handcuffs and released the woman to EMS medical personnel, who transported her to the Peterson Regional Health Center in Kerrville. Smith also locked the shop and gave the keys to the female subject.
In the interview, the woman decried attempts by Smith to retrieve her identification from her handbag located in the store, which was not included in the report. “I told him you have no right to search my handbag,” she said. “He didn’t search it so I guess I was right about that.” Dietrich confirmed that Smith did not search the subject’s handbag.
“I can’t believe it’s come to this,” the woman continued. “I don’t drink or go to bars. I try to mind my own business and give back to the community.”
Municipal Judge Francis Kaiser issued the warrants against the woman on Tuesday, May 17.
The women involved in the incident indicated she had been advised of the warrants and that she would turn herself in to law enforcement officers with the Bandera County Sheriff's Office on Friday, May 20.