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Police tase 87-year-old after cutting dandelions with knife in yard, approaching police

Tech. Sgt. Justin McDonald, 374th Security Forces Squadron NCO holds an X26 taser during a less-lethal weapons demonstration, March 15, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. (Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson/Air Force)
August 20, 2018

Georgia police arrested an 87-year-old woman last Friday after they fired a Taser gun at her, hitting her in the chest.

Martha Al-Bishara, who speaks no English and suffers from dementia, wandered to a nearby Boys and Girls Club in search of dandelions. She took a steak knife to cut the dandelions and collect them for a salad that she often makes for her husband. A Boys and Girls Club employee saw a woman with a knife and called police, but told them the woman was elderly and didn’t appear to be a threat, CNN reported.


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“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.

When Chatsworth Police arrived on the scene, they saw Al-Bishara and ordered her to drop the knife, repeating the command several times.

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Police said: “Her demeanor was calm, even when we had our guns out.”

One of the officers said that he pulled his own knife from his pocket and threw it to the ground so that Al-Bishara would understand what police wanted her to do.

She began to walk towards the officers, still non-threatening, but holding the knife. When she got closer, police fired the Taser, striking her in the chest.

Al-Bishara fell to the ground, but police quickly helped her to her feet. They arrested her for criminal trespass and obstruction of a police officer.

She is due in court on September 19.

Al-Bishara’s daughter-in-law told police that the elderly woman, who only speaks Arabic, often collects dandelions using a knife.

Police justified the officers’ actions and said they used very minimal force. They say officers’ efforts were clear in explaining to Al-Bishara what they wanted her to do, regardless of not speaking English.

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Martha Douhne, the woman’s granddaughter, disagrees with police, claiming her grandmother didn’t understand what police wanted her to do, and police shouldn’t have used a Taser on her.

Douhne said: “With the three, four officers that were here, I think they could have controlled her in other ways.”