Police in Georgia discharged a stun gun on an 87-year-old woman who was cutting dandelions with a knife.
A Boys and Girls club employee alerted the authorities that the elderly woman, later identified as Martha Al-Bishara, was walking around nearby with a knife, The Associated Press reports.
“She’s old so she can’t get around too well,” the caller noted. They added that she, “looks like she’s walking around looking for something, like, vegetation to cut down or something. There’s a bag, too.”
When officers arrived on the scene, they held the woman at gunpoint and ultimately used a Taser to disarm her before taking her into custody for several hours.
After the news of her arrest began sparking outrage, the department’s police chief defended his officers by asserting that they used the least aggressive force under the circumstances.
“An 87-year-old woman with a knife still has the ability to hurt an officer,” Chatsworth Police Chief Josh Etheridge argued.
The woman’s relatives, however, maintained that the woman was not a threat and that she wasn’t disobeying the officers’ orders to drop the knife, she just didn’t understand them because she doesn’t speak English.
After this traumatic experience, her family said that she fears going outside.
“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,” said Martha Douhne, a great-granddaughter.
Solomon Douhne, the woman’s great-nephew, said the officers didn’t have to use force at all to handle the situation.
“If three police officers couldn’t handle an 87-year-old woman, you might want to reconsider hanging up your badge,” he said.
It is incredibly shameful that the responding officers thought using a Taser on an elderly woman was a good idea. They could have killed her.
While she may have been holding a knife, she was not brandishing it or threatening the officers with it. Therefore, it’s probably safe to assume they could have engaged her without being afraid she would attack them.
She was likely afraid and confused as to why there were three officers surrounding her with weapons drawn. The cops should have been more considerate and demonstrated the same level of patience they display with young, white, male offenders.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Reuters, Neil Hall