The police defend Taser use on woman, 87, holding a knife

CHATSWORTH, Ga. – Georgia, a police chief said an officer was justified in using a Taser to stun an 87-year-old woman after she refuse to obey commands to drop a knife in her hand.

Martha Al-Bishara is charged with criminal trespass and obstructing an officer Friday, when the police held her at gunpoint before her on the ground with a jolt from the electrified prongs of a stun gun.

Family members said Al-Bishara speaks no English and is only to cut dandelions with a kitchen knife near her home in Chatsworth, about 85 miles (136 kilometers) north of Atlanta.

“An 87-year-old woman with a knife still has the ability to hurt an officer,” Chatsworth police chief Josh Etheridge told the Daily Citizen News of Dalton.

“There was no anger, there was no harm in this,” Etheridge said. “In my opinion, it was the lowest use of violence, we could have used to simply stop the threat in time.”

Etheridge responded, along with two other officers Friday after an employee of a local Boys and Girls Club called 911 to report a woman with a knife, came outside and would not leave.

“She is old, so she can’t deny it, but yes,” the employee said on the 911 recording. “It seems that they are walking around looking for something, such as vegetation mowing or something. There is a bag.”

When Al-Bishara not follow orders to drop her knife, Etheridge said, he tried to communicate with her by with his pocket knife and throws it on the ground.

But Al-Bishara, the family said that the civil servants should have more patience.

“When three police officers could not cope with an 87-year-old woman, you might want to reconsider hanging up your badge,” said Solomon Douhne, the wife of the great-nephew.

Family members said Al-Bishara is already about two hours at the Murray County jail before being released Friday, and that she still has trouble sleeping and is nervous about going outside.

“She’s OK,” said Martha Douhne, a great-granddaughter. “She is still repetition of the incident in her mind and tell us that they are not for this to happen and apologizing that they don’t want to bring this on us. They have trouble sleeping and is stressed.”

Etheridge said the police is busy with an internal use-of-force review.

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