A police department in Georgia is defending its decision to tase a 87-year-old grandmother who was cutting dandelion greens outside her house.

Martha Al-Bishara was tased outside her Chatsworth home when she was encountered by a local police officer as she was cutting leaves with a knife last week. After noticing the tool, the officer asked the woman to drop the knife and when she didn’t, he tased her.

Bishara’s grandson, Stephen Douhne, said his grandmother, who emigrated to the United States from Syria decades ago, speaks very little English. 

Bishara was initially spotted cutting the leaves by an employee at a nearby Boys and Girls Club, who then contacted the Chatsworth Police Department, according to a police report obtained by The New York Times.

The report claims that the woman ignored the officer’s commands to drop the knife and kept walking.

Douhne told the newspaper that another officer drew a gun on Bishara before the other man tased her.


She was later placed in handcuffs and reportedly arrested for criminal trespass and obstruction of a police officer. Douhne said his grandmother has since received treatment at a hospital and has been released.

“She did not know what was going on,” Douhne said. “When she was growing up, they didn’t even hardly have school for women.”

Local Police Chief Josh Etheridge defended his department against criticism of its handling of the case and how he and the officer on the scene, Steven Marshall, handled the situation.

“And I know everyone is going to say: ‘An 87-year-old woman? How big a threat can she be?’” Etheridge told The Daily Citizen-News of Dalton earlier this week. “She still had a knife.”

“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,” he continued.

“Why did we tase an 87-year-old woman?” he added. “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.”

But the woman’s relatives said the local officers should have shown more patience to the grandmother.

"If three police officers couldn't handle an 87-year-old woman, you might want to reconsider hanging up your badge," said Solomon Douhne, the woman's great-nephew.