#3. Tonya Couch
|Smug til the end: Tonya smirking for the cameras after her arrest in Mexico.|
Tonya Couch is the mom of the world-famous "affluenza boy," Ethan Couch. As you may recall, one night back in 2013, Ethan killed four people with his pickup truck while driving very drunk and speeding.
See related article: Rough Justice in Texas
Then 16 years old, Ethan escaped punishment when the judge in the case sentenced him to 10 years probation. During his trial, a psychologist hired by Ethan's family asserted that Ethan's parents were so rich and spoiled, and set such terrible examples, that young Ethan suffered from a previously unknown ailment, "Affluenza."
As a result of his affluenza, Ethan could not possibly know right from wrong. Tonya is one-half of the profoundly dysfunctional parenting team that afflicted Ethan with affluenza.
It seems that two years later, Ethan still hasn't learned anything, and neither has mom.
This past fall, 18-year-old Ethan, apparently drunk, was secretly videotaped at a party laughing and playing beer pong. Drinking is a violation of Ethan's probation, and could put him in jail.
So what did Tonya do, when faced with her son Ethan's impending arrest? First, she threw a going-away party for him, with friends and family.
Then she helped him abscond to Mexico, driving him from Texas to the Tijuana border crossing, and down to the beaches of Puerto Vallarta.
As far as anyone can tell, that was the whole plan. To stay in Mexico forever, just mom and son. Except Tonya continued to use her cell phone from the United States, which the local authorities pinged (in particular, after Tonya ordered Domino's pizza for dinner one night).
Tonya and Ethan were quickly arrested by Mexican police. The best part is that Ethan, who is not yet considered an adult under Texas law, is probably looking at three to six months in jail.
At 48-years-old, Tonya is considered an adult (though maybe she shouldn't be), and if convicted of aiding and abetting a fugitive, is looking at anywhere from two to ten years.
#2. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi
|Elton and Nadir were Islamic jihadi wannabes who launched a terror attack in Texas with exactly no hope of success.|
Generally speaking, terrorists tend to attack what are often referred to as "soft targets." Soft targets are places that are lightly defended, have little to no security, and are full of civilians with no experience in combat.
In the United States, where mass shootings occur on a regular basis, mass shooters also tend to attack soft targets.
See related article: 5 ways to Avoid Getting Killed in a Mass Shooting
Elton Simpson (29) and Nadir Soofi (33) were friends who wanted to carry out a terrorist attack in the United States. Simpson converted to Islam in high school, and had spent his entire life in the US, though he tried to leave several times to join jihads in other countries. Each time, he was thwarted by the FBI, and ended up on the federal No-Fly List.
Soofi was born in the United States, but spent his formative years in Pakistan. After he returned to the US as a teenager, he had trouble acclimating. He had numerous substance-abuse and driving related arrests. He got married and quickly divorced. He opened a Middle-Eastern themed pizzeria that went out of business.
Egged on by social media propagandists from ISIS and Al-Shabaab, Simpson and Soofi decided to attack something called "The First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest," held at a community center in Garland, Texas.
In Islam, it is considered disrespectful to create images of the prophet Muhammad. Islamic extremists, being extreme in their outlook, believe that drawing Muhammad should be punishable by death.
The Muhammad art exhibit in question was sponsored by a group of right-wing lunatics calling themselves the American Freedom Defense Initiative. Let's not give them too much oxygen, but know that their contest was meant as a provocation, organized with the hope that it would instigate an Islamic terror attack.
Dumb bunnies Simpson and Soofi, with combined military training of zero, walked right into the trap. The contest was protected by at least 40 off-duty police officers, as well as heavily-armed contingents from the FBI, the ATF, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and a SWAT team. It was the exact opposite of a soft target.
The two jihadis, who apparently never bothered to stake out the venue, arrived strapped with guns, body armor, and 1,500 rounds of ammunition. They didn't get anywhere near the building. Indeed, they were both dead within a minute after they stepped out of their car and started firing.
Injuries to the other team included a security guard from the local school district who was shot in the ankle. He was treated at an area hospital and released later that night.
#1. Robert Bates
|Robert Bates is the man on the left. He used to be something called a "Sheriff's Reserve Deputy" in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In that capacity, he accidentally killed the man on the right, Eric Harris, shooting him with his gun instead of his Taser.|
Robert Bates is our big winner in 2015. The silly grin above has been replaced by a sad, sad face, probably for whatever time remains in his life.
Robert is 73 years old, 20 years past the age when many cops retire. In 2012, he donated $2,500 to the re-election campaign of the local sheriff in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This massive contribution entitled Robert to become what's known as a Sheriff's Reserve Deputy, something I'll admit we don't see much of back east.
Sheriff's Reserve Deputies are unpaid volunteers who get to dress up as police officers, carry dangerous weapons, and go out on patrol, although they are not actually cops. It remains unclear how much training they receive, or what the fitness criteria is, if any.
Robert worked for an insurance company for most of his adult life.
Back in April, a man named Eric Harris (44), was out in Tulsa illegally selling a handgun to an undercover police officer. Harris had a long history of doing this type of thing, which is not an offense currently punishable by death.
Unknown to Harris, he was surrounded by cops, with no hope of escape. When this became clear to him, he made a run for it. Within a block, he was tackled and quickly subdued.
Robert Bates was in on this operation. For reasons known only to himself, he decided to Taser Harris, even though Harris was already captured and on the ground.
By accident, Robert pulled his gun instead of his Taser, and shot an unarmed and helpless man. In the video of the incident, Robert can be heard saying, "Oh! I shot him. I'm sorry."
He's sorry now. He was indicted on second-degree manslaughter charges, and faces four years in prison. This is him walking into court:
And here's some police body cam footage of Eric Harris during his last few moments on Earth (not necessarily for the squeamish - you will hear Harris screaming in pain):