A US police chief has defended the use of a Taser on an 87-year-old grandmother after she was spotted walking around with a knife near her home in the state of Georgia, which her family said was for cutting dandelions.
The incident occurred the previous Friday when police officers, responding to a 911 call, stunned Martha Al-Bishara, who does not speak English, with a Taser gun and arrested her for refusing to follow instructions.
The caller had told the police that the woman "didn't try to attack anybody or anything."
“It was the lowest use of force we could have used to simply stop that threat at the time,” Chatsworth Police Chief Josh Etheridge told local media this Friday.
Bishara’s family said the woman would often go outside to cut dandelions for cooking, using a knife and a plastic bag.
Georgia police use Taser on 87 yr. old woman using knife to cut dandelions. Relatives said Al-Bishara doesn't speak English.— Shomari Stone (@shomaristone) August 16, 2018
"If 3 police officers couldn't handle an 87 year old woman, you might want to reconsider hanging up your badge.” -Great-Nephew.https://t.co/byYfsV9Fze pic.twitter.com/IhppUYKVkI
Her granddaughter, Martha Douhne, told NBC News that “she thought she got shot.”
“We have never really told her about stun guns or Tasers, and so she doesn’t know what that is,” she said, adding her grandmother was now having trouble sleeping and was afraid to go outside.
Police said in a statement that Bishara’s “demeanor was calm even seeing us with our guns out."
When the woman did not respond to police instructions for her to drop the knife and began walking toward the police, one of the officers turned on his Taser and pointed it at her, the report said.
When Bishara was about five meters away from the police, the officer shot his Taser, striking the woman in the chest and sending her to the ground, it added.
Body camera footage from the incident, which was reviewed by The Dalton Daily Citizen-News, showed the woman “sobbing and speaking in Arabic” after being hit by the Taser prongs.
Bishara was charged with obstruction of an officer and criminal trespassing. She was then taken to the Murray County Detention Center.