Police are defending their decision to deploy a stun gun on an 87-year-old woman in Georgia.
The Great grandmother was tasered in her breast for failing to understand the police when they told her to drop a knife she was using to cut flowers
Martha al-Bishara, a Syrian native who could not speak English, reportedly refused to drop a steak knife after she had been cutting leaves from dandelions to use in a salad
The police say that as al-Bishara was using a knife they tasered her “rather than using deadly force to stop the situation”.
ABC7 reports: Martha Al-Bishara was arrested for criminal trespass and obstruction of a police officer, according to the report. Chatsworth Police said Al-Bishara did not drop a steak knife despite several commands and a demonstration by officers. At one point, she walked toward officers with the knife, police said.
Police had gone to a wooded area near a Boys and Girls Club last Friday after an employee called 911 to report that an elderly woman was walking around with a knife in the community, around 80 miles north of Atlanta.
“There’s a lady walking on the bike trails, she has a knife and she won’t leave,” the caller told a dispatcher. “She told me she doesn’t speak English, and she’s walking up the trail with a knife towards me.”
“It looks like she’s walking around looking for something, vegetation to cut down or something. She has a bag too,” the caller said.
The Boys and Girls Club employee told the dispatcher that the woman did not seem to be a threat. “But she came at you with a knife, though, right?” the dispatcher asked. “No, she just brought the knife onto the property in her hand, she didn’t try and attack anybody or anything,” the caller said.
Two Chatsworth officers along with Police Chief Josh Etheridge arrived at the scene, and repeatedly asked Al-Bishara, to drop the knife, according to the police report. “Her demeanor was calm, even when we had our guns out,” an officer noted in the police report.
Officers began making hand gestures to indicate dropping a knife, but the woman still did not comply, the report states.
Etheridge told CNN affiliate WTVC that he took a knife from his pocket, showed it to Al-Bishara, and “threw my knife down on the ground, trying to make her understand what we wanted her to do.”
At that point, Al-Bishara began to walk toward the group and did not react when one of the officers turned on his Taser, according to the police report.
“The female did not react to the Taser being on, or the white light coming from the end of the Taser,” the reporting officer noted.
When Al-Bishara was approximately five yards away, still holding the knife in her hand, the officer fired his Taser and struck her in the chest, according to police. Officers then helped her to her feet, and placed her in handcuffs.
Officers tased Al-Bishara just across the street from her house while she was on property belonging to the Boys and Girls Club, according to WTVC.
Another woman who then arrived on the scene identified herself as Al-Bishara’s daughter-in-law. She said that the older woman typically wanders into the woods looking for dandelions and collects them using a knife, according to the police report.
The daughter-in-law also said Al-Bishara has dementia and speaks Arabic.