Sheriff Mickey Mouse

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Abuse of law enforcement power is a pillar of White Trashdom (think Smokey & The Bandit's Sheriff Buford T. Justice or Dukes Of Hazzard's Roscoe P. Coltrane (aw, hell, think of both of them together!). So it shouldn't come as a surprise to regular WTW readers that a Florida sheriff apparently went to questionable lengths to find the address of a person who criticized him in a letter to the editor:

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Orange County's sheriff used driver's license records to contact a woman who wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper citicizing [sic] his staff's use of Taser stun guns and describing him as fat.

Some say Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary violated federal privacy law when he had his aides use the records to get the address of Alice Gawronski. He sent her a letter accusing her of slander.

It is illegal to access a driver's license database to obtain personal information, except for clear law-enforcement purposes, under the U.S. Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994.

"I recently read your slanderous remarks about the Orange County Sheriff's Office in the Orlando Sentinel," Beary wrote Gawronski on March 23. "It is unfortunate that people ridicule others without arming themselves with the facts before they slander a law enforcement agency or individual."

Slander? Here's the letter Gawronski wrote; what do you think?

How many people have to die before we realize that the use of Taser stun guns is a barbaric, torturous and even deadly tactic?

A few months ago I watched on the local news as Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary demonstrated the "safety" of the Taser by being stunned himself. Seeing him fall to the ground in an obvious state of distress was enough to convince me beyond a doubt that it should not be used.

There was something else Beary established during his press conference; that he would be too overweight and out of shape ever to apprehend a suspect without the assistance of a Taser. I doubt that Beary could even subdue a suspect already in handcuffs. Could this be a problem with all his officers? If two or three officers cannot subdue a suspect, maybe our Sheriff's Office should look at more physical-fitness training instead of resorting to these inhumane Taser guns.

Alice Gawronski

Winter Park

Since this was a published letter and not an oral statement, I'm certain that Beary meant libel rather than slander (and the fact that the head law enforcement official of Disney County apparently doesn't know the difference between them should raise a few eyebrows among residents of the Magic Kingdom).

The only thing I saw in that letter that could remotely be considered actionable was the statment "There was something else Beary established during his press conference; that he would be too overweight and out of shape ever to apprehend a suspect without the assistance of a Taser."

Beary's response (from the AP article):

"During my Taser incident, I was never under any duress," he [Beary] wrote Gawronski, adding that his heart activity was monitored by a doctor. Before the test, the 5-foot, 10-inch Beary estimated his weight at 290 pounds.
The expression 'Truth is the ultimate defense' tends to spring to mind here.

Update: Beary says he's sorry (link also gets you to the taser video, if you're so inclined - local6.com does it again!).

It's White Trash Wednesday! Take the whole tour:

2 Comments

HAY THAIR KRISS WAT U SPECT FROM THEM THAIR FLORIDY CRACKOR POHLEECE NE WAYS!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA IF U AX ME THATS THAIR WAT I WOOD OF DONE TO!!! BUT I CAINT GIT THEM RECKERDS IN MY TRAILOR IT AINT NO FARE!!!

but if you take away their tasers, what will they shoot the neighborhood cats with on slow days? Can't throw doughnuts at 'em...

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This page contains a single entry by Chris published on April 6, 2005 12:50 PM.

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