Georgia

A Georgia Police Chief Is Convinced His Department Was Right to Tase a Grandmother

The 87-year-old woman was cutting dandelions with a kitchen knife.

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|||Screenshot via YouTube/ Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Screenshot via YouTube/ Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Georgia family is wondering why police officers chose to use a stun gun on their elderly grandmother while she was cutting dandelions for a traditional Levantine dish.

ABC News reports that Martha al-Bishara, who is 87, immigrated from Syria about two decades ago, and speaks mostly Arabic, decided to cut dandelions with a kitchen knife near a Boys and Girls Club in Chatsworth. A staffer called 911, saying the woman was carrying a knife and didn't speak English. The staffer also told emergency services al-Bishara was an older woman who hadn't threatened anyone and seemed to be looking for "vegetation to cut down or something."

Chatsworth Police Chief Josh Etheridge told ABC News he arrived at the scene after one of his officers, whom he did not name. The pair repeatedly told al-Bishara to drop her knife and at one point attempted to mime the action for her. "She came walking toward the officer," Etheridge told the Daily Citizen-News. "After multiple commands, he told her to stop several times. She continued walking, at which time we deployed the Taser."

Al-Bishara was charged with two misdemeanors: criminal trespass and obstruction of an officer. When asked why the officers couldn't retreat, Etheridge argued that their position on sloped terrain might have caused one of them to fall down, giving al-Bishara an opportunity to approach. Etheridge argued that using the Taser avoided deadly force. "In my opinion," he said, "it was the lowest use of force we could have used to simply stop that threat at the time. And I know everyone is going to say, 'An 87-year-old woman? How big a threat can she be?' She still had a knife."

Etheridge said there was body camera footage of the incident, but it would not be released due to the pending charges.

Although the shooting is justified in Etheridge's mind, al-Bishara's family feels differently. "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," said great-granddaughter Martha Douhne. "She is having trouble sleeping and is stressed." Al-Bishara's grandson Timothy Douhne observed that "my grandmother is a human being who they didn't have any patience with."

Bonus link: Last month, a Cincinnati police officer tased an 11-year-old girl suspected of shoplifting at a grocery store. Department policy allows tasing of children as young as 7.

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  1. The staffer also told emergency services al-Bishara was an older woman who hadn’t threatened anyone and seemed to be looking for “vegetation to cut down or something.”

    So obviously the 911 call.

    1. See something? Shut The Fuck Up!

      1. “I just saw two grown men attack an old lady. What’s the number to report that?”

        1. Balko doesn’t give out his personal number.

    2. My first reaction too. What was the point of the 9-1-1 call if there was no threat, if the caller thought she was harmless? Maybe this guy needs to be charged with abusing the 9-1-1 system.

    3. Allegedly she was on their property. Would I call the cops? No. It was probably some libtard.

  2. “…And I know everyone is going to say, ‘An 87-year-old woman? How big a threat can she be?’ She still had a knife.”

    Like so many walks of life, a little sense of shame might make this guy a better member of society.

    1. It’s a pity we no longer have stocks, dunking stool, or whipping post to use on government officials.

      I guess we’ll just have to fire up the woodchippers.

      1. The problem with that is that the teeth always get jammed in the machinery.

    2. I watched the video, and judging from the body language, the police chief seems to feel ashamed, even though he will not admit it. He is still an asshole, of course.

  3. When asked why the officers couldn’t retreat, Etheridge argued that their position on sloped terrain might have caused one of them to fall down, giving al-Bishara an opportunity to approach.

    It’s a literal slippery slope, allowing one citizen to think she can advance on authorities without consequence.

  4. Etheridge argued that their position on sloped terrain might have caused one of them to fall down, giving al-Bishara an opportunity to approach.

    So it was like an old B horror movie, where the part of the shrieking girl whose legs stop working was played by the 200lb police officer and the part of the trudging swamp monster was played by the 80 year old gardening grandmother.

    1. “She’s standing above us with a dangerous blade. Better do something to make her fall — gravity works UP, right?”

    2. 87…

  5. After reading about shit like this, I have very little sympathy for the “Blue Lives Matter” movement. Also, I think cops should not be allowed to carry tasers-back when their only options were a truncheon or a gun, I doubt they would have beaten or shot granny, then again maybe they would have…

    1. I blame Trump. From his inaugural address he gave police permission to be stormtroopers, and there’s nothing he’s said since in mitigation.

      1. He and his followers certainly do seem to have a major cop fetish, then again, I have yet to see a politician from either party criticize the police. Bill Clinton juiced them the most, and since then, all others have followed, except for the time Obama was forced to have that beer summit.

      2. I long for the pre-Trump days when the police never tased people they shouldn’t have

      3. Nor was anything said in mitigation from any of his recent predecessors.

        If you think this problem magically started in 2016, you’ve been living with some really good blinders on.

  6. Wait, was it Aretha Franklin they attacked?

    1. Well, this police chief is not getting any satisfaction from this tasing, so….

      1. Aretha: You better think about the consequences of your actions.

        Murphy: Awe, shut up woman!

        1. A very underrated guitarist was Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy. Just passed recently, as well.

          Saw him in a club in Boston (Harper’s Ferry) in the late 80s.

      2. “You make me feeeeeel,
        You make me feeeel,
        Like a criminal womaaaan”

  7. “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,”

    Tell her what worthless cowards American police are and it will all make sense.

  8. To say nothing of the fact that she didn’t have a license for the knife, NOR for the gathering of dandelions, which I think is on the endangered botanical species list. Also, it’s the preferred food for the Georgia Stink Bug, which is listed as ‘most threatened’ on some list or another.

    Sounds like a justified tasing to me.

  9. They shaved his head a little too close.

    1. Not close enough for the skinheads.

  10. This is going to be unpopular, but I kind of sympathize with the cops here. Somebody advances on you with a knife, I’d say you’re justified in acting in self defense. EVEN IF it’s a granny; granny with a knife is still dangerous.

    1. You would make an excellent law enforcement officer. They may be looking soon for candidates in the Chatsworth Police Department.

    2. “This is going to be unpopular, but I kind of sympathize with the moral depravity of jack booted thugs here.” FTFY Uncle Grandpa.

      Correct, it most assuredly would be unpopular here and for good reason. Cops must have had to meet their violence escalation quota for the month.

      Do these costumed thugs get your sympathy too, for the violence against this 76 year-old deaf woman.

      https://www.blacklistednews.com/article/ 67779/deaf-76yearold-woman-knocked- unconscious-and-arrested-over-alleged.html

      A cop putting his hands up and retreating would have been more effective communication than a ridiculous mime. But that would suggest a loss of power and control and Them can’t have that.

    3. In every case of someone slowly advancing on me with a kitchen knife, I’ve been able to step out of the way and let them get to the knife block or cutting board. I’ve never had to tase them.

      It’s almost like body language is a thing.

      That said, this is still better then shooting her. Though in the case of an 85 year old, there’s a good chance the taser did permanent damage and could have been fatal.

    4. Grandma Dynamite taught us granny’s can be dangerous.

    5. I can empathize inasmuch as their training must have been criminally negligent and with more technology, the concept of deescalation and people skills has gone right out the window.

      What I can’t sympathize with is a police chief thinking it was justified. That means there is little incentive to change protocol and events like these become normalized.

    6. No, Red Tony. Bad Tony! If you don’t know how to neutralize an old granny with a knife, you should not be a cop.

  11. We could give them the benefit of the doubt by assuming they’re not laughable, pathetic cowards. But that can only mean they’re sadistic psychopaths.

    1. If police departments had a better way of weeding out people with a conscience, and only hired sociopaths, the problem of police officers committing suicide would go away.

      1. In progress.

    2. A) pathetic cowards, not laughable
      B) they’re sadistic psychopaths
      C) All of the Above

      Correct Answer: C
      Answer provided for the benefit of GRFT, and the like, who would obviously struggle since there was no, “None of the Above.”

  12. This is what bureaucracy does to the human mind.

    1. “Assuming we’re the good guys and at no point were we wrong, how do we interpret these results?”

  13. The more police exposed for violations of civil rights, the better.

    Georgia is getting a lot of exposure to clean house.

  14. Etheridge argued that using the Taser avoided deadly force.

    If they didn’t have a Taser they would have shot her, and nothing else would have happened.

    Obey or die.

  15. “Department policy allows tasing of children as young as 7.”

    As long as procedures are followed, it’s all good.

    1. I’m guessing when an officer tases a four year old but claims she “looked seven” it will be allowed under the good faith exception.

  16. We handle use of force issues internally, and an outside agency would be contacted if we thought a crime had been committed.

    “If I thought I had committed a crime, I would contact my colleagues at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to report myself, but I have investigated myself thoroughly and diligently, leaving no stone unturned, and concluded conclusively that I am innocent. Everything above board.”

  17. Two decades and she can’t speak english? Why is she here?

    Deport.

  18. I could be wrong, but it appears the Chatsworth Police Department’s Facebook page has gone private.

    1. Could be worse. They could be harboring “The Honorable” Sarah C. Backus, shitbird refugee from Californistan.

  19. [The victim’s nephew Solomon] Douhne told [Channel 2’s Richard] Elliot that he is a former Dalton police officer. He admits Chatsworth police didn’t appear to do anything procedurally wrong, but he wishes they had used more common sense to disarm his 87-year-old aunt.

    Goddamn. Even when it happens to his own grandmother, there’s a line that must be toed.

    1. Police procedure > your rights

    2. “Between procedures and common sense I accept the former and wish for the latter.”

    3. Ha! Tricked you all. It wasn’t his grandmother, it was his aunt. Tase away, officers.

      1. Ha! Tricked you all. It wasn’t his grandmother, it was his aunt.

        I caught it but didn’t want to be the one responsible for explaining any awkwardness in your family tree.

    4. if it was his grandfather he might feel different?

  20. The staffer also told emergency services al-Bishara was an older woman who hadn’t threatened anyone and seemed to be looking for “vegetation to cut down or something.”

    Dispatcher: So, let me get this straight. You’ve called us over an elderly woman whom you don’t believe to be a threat?
    Staffer: That’s right.
    Dispatcher: And you realize this is a police department?
    Staffer: Of course.
    Dispatcher: Well, when she becomes a threat, you can call us back. Until then the best I can offer you is the number of a local lawn and garden center.

  21. Shooting?

  22. Back in the day early Italian immigrants were famous for cutting dandelions off highways often with knives and scissors. I’m pretty sure a few couldn’t speak English too. I guess they got lucky they never had to run into police in a hyper-shrill environment we have today.

    My how far we’ve come, eh?

    1. I strongly suspect back in the day dandelions were foraged across Europe by peasants being brutally oppressed by actual King’s men.

  23. Martha al-Bishara, who is 87, immigrated from Syria about two decades ago, and speaks mostly Arabic

    Whew! She got in just in time to get her social security. Allahu Akbar

    1. I wonder if this anecdote from Reason will be subtracted to their contention that immigrants use less welfare than native Americans?

      I forgot how some old immigrants actually never pay into Social Security but get to collect it immediately after getting the okay from D.C.

      1. I forgot how some old immigrants actually never pay into Social Security but get to collect it immediately after getting the okay from D.C.
        The only people that get to claim SS without ever paying in are the spouses (and if married long enough, exes) of people that did pay in.

    2. Only if she spent time as a legal resident earlier in life and earned enough credits (something like 10 years of work) before immigrating permanently, or if her husband has done the same.

      So it’s possible she’s collecting SS, but if so, it’s either because her spouse earned it, or she earned it. The US doesn’t have a totalization agreement with Syria, so any work there wouldn’t count for Social Security.

      She might be able to get SSI, but that’s explicitly means-tested welfare, so it’s a different kettle and would depend on whether or not she’s living with family that’s providing for her. If they are, it’s unlikely she’d get SSI at all, or at least not very much.

      1. it’s either because her spouse earned it, or she earned it.

        And by ‘earned it’ you mean less “Worked and saved in order to live comfortably.” and more “Passed ‘Go!’ in FDR-opoly.” Not that the natives are necessarily any better, but the root of the problem isn’t who we’re handing the Monopoly money to or whatever blood quantum relationship secures it for them. Technically, the whole point of SS is/was that you didn’t *have* to earn it.

        1. By “earned it” I mean spent “he spent time as a legal resident earlier in life and earned enough credits (something like 10 years of work) before immigrating permanently”

          This really wasn’t a vague or unclear statement on my part.

          You do know you can diss a system while still being aware of how it actually functions, right?

  24. Hey! The Saracen hag didn’t obey orders given in a foreign language. Surely there’s pretext enough there to blow her brains all over the terrain (like when Officer Bron Cruz murdered Dillon Taylor, or Trooper Tiller of Seneca shot that boy seeking plant leaves). Besides, how were the First Responders? to know those plant leaves the old woman was holding weren’t the True Avatars of Satan? Bush and Clinton both called for the death sentence for plant leaf kingpins, and Chatsworth Police Chief Josh Etheridge (he of the simian brow) tried his best deliver what those elected officials demanded. He’s actually in trouble because the old gal survived the electrocution.

  25. I’m certainly no fan of cops nor think they should tase 87 y/o’s of either sex,

    but, maybe we should expect people to be able to communicate here too.

    She couldn’t speak or understand English?

    No reason to tase her but letting people come here that can’t and then won’t learn the language is not helping things.

    1. There is no official language in this country, and even if there was, not speaking it is no crime and is not punishable by violence without trial. Redneck.

      1. Tony doesnt speak English, which is why we just comment around him.

    2. Corollary: AZG should be able to go anywhere in the world on vacation and be an asshole, and it serves them right for not learning the language to be able to be graced by his/her/its charming personality.

  26. Body camera technology is obsolete.

    It will show a stupid scared racist cop tase an old lady for cutting weeds for dinner.

    Tasers are lethal to 5% of people. They represent lethal force.

    These scared stupid cops need current technology, like google glass where what they see can be real time transmitted to psychological experts or translators who can give informed advice in real time, as well as recording their actions that result in needless death when they refuse to use it.

  27. If you voted for Trump, you are objectively in favor of this.

  28. I’d be curious to see the results of an English language test taken by Melania Trump’s parents.

  29. Why did police go there in the first place? People call 911 for anything.

  30. This is yet another example of why I do not care when a cop is shot in the face.
    and why ” see something ,say something” is one fucked up idea .

  31. The cops had every reason to be afraid. It wasn’t an 87 year old grandmother they tased; it was Norman Bates,?
    https://goo.gl/eVQ64A

  32. If there was ANY way to buy their explanation that didn’t involve literally fellating anything in a uniform, they would have released to footage.

    Rule of Life #427: They ALWAYS release video that makes YOU look bad. Anything sealed is damning them.

  33. Officer could fall down go boom. Mean woman could pounce on officer, kick away officer’s taser and side arm and, stab officer like shower scene from Psycho. 87 year old woman extremely dangerous. Threaten officer’s life with knife and dandelions.

  34. It’s almost as though police assume that because someone called them, there must be a danger. They should show up with their own clean judgment and not be biased by whomever called the police, as though no citizen could possibly be an idiot or malicious when they call the police.

  35. Besides the unfortunate reality that Tasers are often fatal for elderly people, seriously? An 87-year-old woman with a knife vs two presumably healthy men? Oh, you might have fell down and got a boo-boo? Disgusting.

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