Georgia cops said they had no choice but to taser an 87-year-old woman because she made them fear for their lives after refusing to drop a knife.
But Martha Al-Bishara said she was merely using the knife to cut dandelions at a Boys and Girls Club. And her family members say she doesn't understand English.
However, Chatsworth police still charged her with obstruction of an officer and criminal trespass, locking her up for two hours in a jail cell.
"If they would have approached her with an open hand rather than with their guns drawn, she would have handed it (the knife) to them right away," said grandson Timothy Douhne. "My grandmother is the most kind, generous-hearted woman."
“You don’t Tase an 87-year-old woman,” said great-nephew Solomon Douhne, a former Dalton Police Department officer. “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.”
Al-Bishara was charged with criminal trespass and obstruction of an officer, both misdemeanors. She was released on her own recognizance after family members said she spent two hours at the Murray County jail. They said she is recovering but is frightful of going outside and has trouble sleeping.
"She is OK," great-granddaughter Martha Douhne said. "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 incident took place Friday afternoon when an employee of the Boys and Girls Club spotted the woman walking with a knife and called police.
“This lady is walking on the bike trail, she has a knife and she won’t leave. She doesn’t speak English.”
“She’s old so she can’t get around too well, but,” the employee said. “Looks like she’s walking around looking for something, like, vegetation to cut down or something. There’s a bag, too.”
When the operator asked if the woman "came at someone with a knife ..." the employee said, “No, she just bringed the knife onto the property in her hand. She didn’t try to attack anybody or anything. We haven't closed in our fence in the back yet and she walked through there."
So the employee was able to determine the woman was probably looking for flowers to call but made the call anyway, perhaps expecting cops to come to the same conclusion.
The incident was recorded on the cops' body cam videos but they are not releasing the footage at this time because charges against her are still pending, which is a lame excuse but what they told the Daily Citizen, who was allowed to review the footage.
However, the news site said the woman was too far away to determine what she was doing with the knife. But there should be two other videos from two other officers who are closer to her, including the one who tasered her.
Al-Bishara has lived in the area for 22 years.
“This woman don’t bother nobody or nothing,” said her neighbor, Elizabeth Usrey. “They keep their stuff clean and don’t bother anyone. I don’t really know what happened, but the woman wouldn’t hurt a fly. Using a taser on someone that age is ridiculous.”
The incident marks at least the third time this year that American cops have either arrested or abused a woman older than 80 years old who posted no threat to them, including an 84-year-old Arizona woman who was thrown to the ground while cops were conducting a welfare check as well as an 80-year-old Minnesota woman for possession of marijuana after her medical marijuana card had expired.
Chatsworth Police Chief Josh Etheridge said she is lucky they did not kill her because she was viewed as a threat.
"In my opinion, it was the lowest use of force we could have used to simply stop that threat at the time," he said.