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2016-06-23

Tasering video goes viral on social media

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

For the first time since City of Bandera Marshal Will Dietrich tasered a 66-year-old woman on Monday, May 16, a video has surfaced showing the entire 15-minute incident.
KSAT 12 aired a portion of the videotape during a 6 pm news report on Monday, June 20. However, the video in its entirety is available on the news station’s website – as well as all over social media.
The Courier first covered the incident in the May 19 edition. At that time, neither the tasered victim, Mary Montes, nor the owners of The Gold Rush, located in the 1300 block of Cypress Street, wanted the videotape to be revealed. Apparently, a video camera is routinely used as a security measure in the shop located in a small strip mall.
To provide a cogent record of the controversial incident, KSAT obtained the video from Montes and blended it with audio from a dash cam recorder in Deputy Marshal Willie Smith’s patrol vehicle. The audio was reportedly provided to the news station by the marshal’s office.
At approximately 9:50 am on May 16, Smith, who also doubles as a city code inspector, spoke to Montes about a possible violation of a city sign. 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.
At that time, Montes, who is not an employee of The Gold Rush, was cleaning the small shop as a favor to the owners. The first part of the exchange was amicable.
Montes removed the offending banners, but complained to Smith, “Why do they (the city) keep changing the rules?” Smith suggested she review city ordinances covering display of commercial banners online on the city website.
In turn, Montes suggested he focus on arresting individuals involving drugs and alcohol. “I try to arrest as many people as possible,” Smith noted.
However, the situation escalated dramatically after Smith asked Montes to identify herself for his report on the sign ordinance violation. She told him, “I’m not giving you my last name. I do not have to.”
Smith insisted that she had to identify herself, saying, “Absolutely you do. Failure to identify yourself is in violation of the law.”
In fact, unless a suspect has been placed under arrest, no law in the State of Texas requires that someone identify himself to a law enforcement officer, according to Texas Penal Code 38.02. It is only after being placed under arrest that a suspect is required to identify himself.
At this point, Smith instructed her to turn around as he attempted to place her in handcuffs. Smith and Montes struggled and she finally identified herself as “Mary,” but refused to reveal her last name.
Throughout the scuffle, Montes repeatedly cried, “You’re hurting me.” She also indicated that she had “titanium” in her neck. At this point, she fell to the floor.
Finally, Smith called for backup and Dietrich responded. Entering The Gold Rush, his first words were: “I’m fixing to tase you. Let him have your hands.”
Montes responded, “Don’t tase me. I’ll have a heart attack.”
“Then you’ll just have to have a heart attack,” Dietrich said, shouting, “Taser, taser, taser,” before deploying his device. After Montes was tasered, Dietrich directed her, “Roll over on your stomach and get your hands behind your back.” Apparently, she complied.
Explaining the situation, Smith said, “She did not want to give me her identification.”
During the next few minutes, Montes complained of not being able to breath. Also, she indicated the handcuffs were too tight, but Smith essentially ignored her complaints. She was, however, allowed to sit up to facilitate breathing.
“See the consequence of not doing was you were told,” Dietrich told Montes.
Smith informed her that she was going to jail for her actions. After EMS was called, Smith told her, “If you decide to go with EMS, I’m just gonna have to get a warrant for your arrest.” If Montes “decided” not to go with EMS, she would have apparently been carted off to the calaboose immediately.
Smith explained to EMS personnel that the taser probe had penetrated the skin and was still embedded in Montes. “Just give a yank and it’ll come right out,” he said.
Montes said, “I refused to give my name and he tased me,” adding, “I served my country and this is how I get treated – only in Bandera.”
At this point, Smith attempted to search Montes’ handbag in order to ascertain her identify. “You have no right to do that,” she said.
“Yes, I do,” he replied. “I’m investigating a crime now.” However, he refrained from searching her purse.
To Montes’ query about the nature of the crime, Smith said, “You’re going to be charged with failure to identify.”
Later, in fact, Smith secured two misdemeanor warrants against Montes – failure to identify and resisting arrest.
However, at no point during the 15-minute the audio and videotape of the incident did Smith or Dietrich place Montes under arrest or Mirandize her.
Interestingly, an advertisement playing prior to the uncut tape of the tasering incident on KSAT was for attorney Thomas J. Henry.