Georgia police use Taser on 87-year-old woman who was using knife to cut dandelions

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CHATSWORTH, Ga. — An 87-year-old grandmother was using a knife to cut dandelions in the woods near her rural Georgia home Friday, when she was brought to the ground by a police officer’s Taser and arrested, according a police report obtained by CNN.

The Chatsworth Police Department was called to a wooded area near a Boys and Girls Club, after an employee called 911 to report that an elderly woman was walking around with a knife in the community north of Atlanta.

“There’s a lady walking on the bike trails, she has a knife and she won’t leave,” the caller told the 911 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 the woman, Martha Al-Bishara, to drop the knife, according to the police report.

“Her demeanor was calm, even when we had our guns out,” the officer noted in the police report.

Officers began making hand gestures to indicate dropping a knife, but the woman still did not comply. At that point she 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 from the officers, 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, police said.

At that point another woman walked toward the officers and 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 that Al-Bishara has dementia and speaks Arabic.

Al-Bishara was arrested for trespassing and obstruction of a police officer, according to CNN affiliate WTVC. Her court appearance is scheduled for September 19.

Etheridge told WTVC that he believes his officers’ actions were justified.

“Most people can understand the universal command for ‘stop,'” Etheridge said.

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