KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A 67-year-old grandmother who was shocked with a Taser stun gun after she honked her car horn at a police cruiser has been given a year's probation for sparking a quarrel with officers.
A charge of improper use of the horn against Louise Jones was dismissed Wednesday in Kansas City Municipal Court. Her husband, Fred, 76, who became involved in the fray last year, also got one year of probation for the same charges — resisting arrest and attempting to inflict injury on an officer.
The only condition of the probation is that the couple obey all laws.
The incident, which resulted in a change in department policy and the disciplining of two officers, happened in June 2004 as police were responding to a disturbance call across the street from the couple's home. Officers said they approached Louise Jones after she honked her horn, thinking she had reported the disturbance or perhaps was in trouble. A defense witness testified the honk was accidental.
"She immediately became hostile to us," Officer Ryan VanDeusen testified. He said that she continued the verbal assault when the officers returned to their squad car.
"It was very loudy, it was antagonistic, it was very derogatory toward my partner and I," he testified.
Officer Cory LeMoine said he told Jones he could give her a ticket for honking the horn, and that a physical confrontation began after she wouldn't show him her driver's license. He said he and his partner struggled with Jones both inside and outside her house. The officers said that while VanDeusen was trying to handcuff her, Fred Jones came down the stairs and leveled his shoulder into him.
VanDeusen said he used the Taser on Louise Jones when his partner couldn't get her under control.
The Jones disputed the officers' account. Louise Jones and other defense witnesses said she wasn't confrontational and that the comments she made were directed to a friend, not to the officers.
"She says something to the neighbor across the street and the officer didn't like that," said defense attorney Basil North. "He decided he was going to teach her a lesson."
Louise Jones said she pulled away from the police when one of the officers grabbed her arm, and her husband said one of the officers had his knee on his wife's chest.
Municipal Judge Marcia K. Walsh told the couple they should fulfill their sentence easily, pointing out that Fred Jones' criminal history was perfect except for a traffic ticket.
"Your record is even better," she told Louise Jones. "You don't even have a ticket."
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The couple's attorney said they plan to appeal the decision. North moved for dismissal of the horn-honking charges on grounds that the ordinance involved was worded vaguely, and the prosecutor agreed to drop it.