Georgia police are defending an officer’s decision to use a taser on a 87-year-old elderly woman using a knife to cut dandelions.
Law enforcement officials say the woman, Martha Al-Bishara, should have followed orders. But Al-Bishara does not speak English and did not understand the officer’s request, her family says.
“An 87-year-old woman with a knife still has the ability to hurt an officer,” Chatsworth Police Chief Josh Etheridge told the Daily Citizen-News of Dalton.
“There was no anger, there was no malice in this,” Etheridge said. “In my opinion, it was the lowest use of force we could have used to simply stop that threat at the time.”
Al-Bishara was cutting dandelions outside a local Boys and Girls Club nearby her home in Chatsworth to use in a salad, her family said. An employee called the police on her for walking around with a knife.
“She’s old so she can’t get around too well, but,” the employee said on the 911 recording. “Looks like she’s walking around looking for something, like, vegetation to cut down or something. There’s a bag, too.”
When Etheridge and other officers arrived at the scene Al-Bishara would not put down her knife or follow orders, Etheridge said. He tried to communicate with her to drop the knife by dropping his own pocket knife on the ground.
Footage viewed by the Daily Citizen-News shows Etheridge and officer Steven Marshall in a stand down with a woman who is holding a knife, Etheridge with a pistol aimed at the woman and Marshall with a Taser in his hands, the outlet reported.
Officers employed the electric stun gun, bringing Al-Bishara to the ground. She was charged with criminal trespass and obstructing an officer.
Al-Bishara’s family members said officers should have been more patient.
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Source: USA Today