CHATSWORTH, Ga – Georgia residents can sleep a little easier tonight knowing that three of their finest took down an 87-year-old knife wielding woman cutting dandelions with a taser. The police chief backed his officers calling the use of force justified citing the rash of violent elderly-on-plant crimes gripping the city. The chief said the woman didn’t obey police commands to drop the knife.
Martha Al-Bishara was charged with criminal trespass and obstructing an officer Friday. Cops held her at gunpoint before bringing her to the ground with a jolt from the electrified prongs of a stun gun. Al-Bishara’s family claim that she was not a danger to the community. She was merely cutting some dandelions near her home in Chatsworth. They also mentioned that she doesn’t speak english.
“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.”
That was the LOWEST use of force police could use on the senior citizen?! When police tasered an 11-year-old at Krogers they said that taser use was safe on people aged 7-70. Surely this woman would be ok.
According to reports, the chief and two other officers responded to a 911 call about a woman with a knife. The woman was outside a local Boys and Girls Club. An employee called 911 to report a woman with a knife was walking outside and would not leave.
“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.”
The chief claims he tried to communicate with the woman upon arrival. When she wouldn’t respond to police commands, Etheridge alleges he took his own pocket knife and threw it on the ground. When she did not respond to that police tasered her.
Her family believes that police could have exercised more caution on the 87-year-old woman.
“If three police officers couldn’t handle an 87-year-old woman, you might want to reconsider hanging up your badge,” said Solomon Douhne, the woman’s great-nephew.
Al-Bishara spent about two hours at the Murray County jail before being released Friday.
“She is OK,” said Martha Douhne, a great-granddaughter. “She is still repeating the incident over in her mind and telling us she didn’t mean for this to happen and apologizing that she didn’t want to bring this on us. She is having trouble sleeping and is stressed.”
The police department claims to be conducting an internal review of the taser use. Considering the chief’s proximity to what happened it’s hard to believe that any real disciplinary action will occur.