Chatsworth, GA — Last August, TFTP reported on the horrific incident in which an 87-year-old grandmother was tasered in her breast for failing to understand police when they told her to drop a knife she was using to reportedly cut flowers. Now, nearly a year later, the body camera footage of the insane brutality against Martha Al-Bishara has been released.
According to WRCB, they spoke to Al-Bishara's granddaughter by phone on Wednesday. She says her family is aware of the video, but it has been hard for some of them to watch. Their attorney, Jeff Dean, shared the video with Channel 3 on the family's behalf.
According to police, they received a call from a Boys and Girls club employee noting that Martha Al-Bishara, was walking a trail with a knife. The caller noted that Al-Bishara was not threatening anyone and appeared to be "walking around looking for something, like, vegetation to cut down or something." She also had a bag to put it in.
“Stop. Throw it down. Drop the knife. You're going to get tased,” an officer says on the newly released video.
Instead of realizing she couldn't understand their barking of orders, the officer deploys the taser.
As the video shows, Chatsworth Police Chief Josh Etheridge is pointing a gun at Al-Bishara before another officer deploys the taser striking the great-grandmother in her left breast and her stomach. She then falls over in agony and begins sobbing as the officers move in to handcuff her.
As she's on the ground moaning, only then do the cops start asking questions.
“Why did you not stop?” an officer asks Al-Bishara.
According to her family they knew last year that Al-Bishara's taser attack was captured on body camera footage and they were able to watch it. However, citing the charges against the great-grandmother, police didn't release it publicly until now.
For cutting flowers in the woods and getting tasered by cops, Al-Bishara was arrested and charged with obstruction of an officer and criminal trespassing.
Being that Al-Bishara speaks Arabic, she likely did not understand the officers when they were telling her to put down the knife.
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“The language barrier was obviously a problem in this case but the fact was that there was no need to tase her. There was no danger,” the family's attorney said. “Any danger that was there was something the officers created.”
The family told police that Al-Bishara was simply on the property to cut dandelions with a kitchen knife—a story backed up by the transcripts of the 911 call. The bag in her hand, the description from the 911 call, and the fact that the woman never threatened anyone should've given officers this impression. Instead, however, a gun and a taser were pointed at her.
“Her family tells me she is a different person,” Dean explained. “She used to spend a lot of time outside. She doesn't do that anymore. She's not quite as trusting of other people anymore. She's a lot more nervous, just being afraid.”
Naturally, police are standing by their decision to taser the non-threatening great-grandmother and noted that even though she never moved toward anyone with the knife that she still presented a threat.
“I completely understand and if I hadn’t been there and it would come across my desk, that is the first thing I would ask as well," Etheridge said at the time. "Why did we Tase an 87-year-old woman? I guess in that circumstance, I am glad I was there and saw it firsthand and understand why it occurred. An 87-year-old woman with a knife still has the ability to hurt an officer.”
"The question's always going to be why did he (the officer) not retreat," Etheridge said. "The thought behind that would be if the officer had retreated, with her being in an elevated position, he could have easily fell down," Etheridge said, "at which time she could have been progressing on top of him and deadly force could have been used at that point in time. And that was the whole goal, to try to avoid using any type of force, but if we have to use force, use the minimum force."
Family members disagree and said the officers made no attempt to be kind or show bravery.
"If they would have approached her with an open hand rather than with their guns drawn, she would have handed it (the knife) to them right away," said grandson Timothy Douhne. "My grandmother is the most kind, generous-hearted woman."
“You don’t Tase an 87-year-old woman,” said great-nephew Solomon Douhne, a former Dalton Police Department officer. “She was not a threat. If anything, she was confused and didn’t know what was going on. It was a ridiculous turn of events. If three police officers couldn’t handle an 87-year-old woman, you might want to reconsider hanging up your badge.”
Walking with a knife is not a crime, especially while holding a bag and collecting dandelions. Sadly, however, the great-grandmother was traumatized by the incident.
"She is OK," great-granddaughter Martha Douhne said. "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."