Cops Tase 87-Year-Old Who Was Looking for Dandelions

Martha Al-Bishara is 87, doesn't speak English
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2018 10:55 AM CDT
Elderly Woman Hunting for Dandelions Ends Up Tased
This Friday, Aug. 10, 2018 photo released by the Murray County Jail, Ga. shows Martha Al-Bishara, 87, under arrest.   (Murray County Jail via AP)

After an elderly woman wouldn't leave the grounds of a Boys and Girls Club in rural Georgia last Friday, police were called—and the situation culminated with Martha Al-Bishara, 87, being tased. CNN reports the 911 caller described Al-Bishara as walking on the bike trails while holding a knife, though the caller specified she wasn't trying to attack anyone. "It looks like she's walking around looking for something, vegetation to cut down or something. She has a bag, too." The caller added that the woman said she doesn't speak English—WTVC reports Al-Bishara is from Syria and speaks Arabic—something the two Chatsworth officers and Police Chief Josh Etheridge soon encountered.

Per the police report, Al-Bishara was calm, but did not comply with requests that she drop the knife. WTVC reports Etheridge pulled out his own knife and dropped it as an example, "trying to make her understand." As for what she was doing with the knife, Martha Douhne says her grandmother was cutting dandelions to put into a salad with what was a kitchen knife; Al-Bishara lives across the street, and WTVC notes there were no signs marking the property she was found on as being owned by the Boys and Girls Club. Etheridge says the officers opted for the "least force necessary" in striking the woman in the chest with the Taser from a distance of about 15 feet. Douhne complains EMTs weren't called by the officers. Al-Bishara has been charged with criminal trespass and obstructing an officer. Etheridge says an internal use-of-force review is underway, per the AP. (More Taser stories.)

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