Georgia police chief defends use of taser on 87-year-old grandmother cutting flowers
The officers held Martha Al-Bishara at a police station for three hours before her family came and took her to a hospital
A police chief in Georgia is defending the use of a taser on an elderly woman after she was seen walking around with a knife near her home, reports state. The 87-year-old grandmother's family, however, has said that she was cutting dandelions for a salad when officers used a taser on her.
Martha Al-Bishara's family says that she cannot speak English and was gathering flowers on Friday from a property which belonged to a Boys and Girls Club organization in Chatsworth. Reports state that a staff member called 911 on her for trespassing and it was then when police officials arrived at the spot.
The caller told police in the 911 recording: "She’s old so she can’t get around too well, but looks like she’s walking around looking for something, like vegetation to cut down or something. There’s a bag too." The caller added that there were no children outside and that she was wearing a "Muslim hat-looking thing," and she said she cannot speak English, HuffPost reported.
Shortly after the call, at least three police officers from Chatsworth responded to the scene nearly 70 miles northwest of Atlanta and asked the grandmother to drop her knife. When the woman could not follow their command, they used a taser on her to contain her.
Family says Martha Al-Bishara was using a small knife to cut flowers when confronted by police officers, and didn't understand their commands due to limited English. https://t.co/JnkjYEOSiV— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 17, 2018
The police department, however, defended their actions. The Police Chief Josh Etheridge said that the woman should have complied with the officers' request even if she did not understand English, according to the Daily Citizen-News.
Esteridge said: "She’s seeing us, she hears what we’re saying, she may not know what we’re saying, but we’re telling her to stop and there’s a Taser pointed at her and there’s a firearm that’s unholstered there. Most people, that’s kind of the universal command for stop."
The Police Chief also added that the officials used a taser as the "minimum force" they could use on the old lady.
The woman's grandson, 24-year-old medical student Timothy Douhne, while talking to ABC News, said: "If they had calmed down, de-escalated the situation, listened a little bit, we wouldn’t be having this issue right now."
The elderly lady's great-nephew Solomon Douhne, a former Dalton Police Department officer, also condemned the officer's response to the situation and said: "She was not a threat. If anything, she was confused and didn’t know what was going on. It was a ridiculous turn of events. If three police officers couldn’t handle an 87-year-old woman, you might want to reconsider hanging up your badge."
Douhne also added that his grandmother was handcuffed and booked on suspicion of misdemeanor criminal trespass and obstruction of an officer. The officers held the 87-year-old at a police station for three hours before her family came and took her to a hospital.
"She’s still feeling pretty shook up. Her body is still pretty tired. She has some symptoms, I think, of post-traumatic stress. She can’t go outside and look at the spot where it happened. She’s feeling really bad about the whole situation and really embarrassed, and has been crying on and off," Douhne told ABC News.