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20 Jun, 2019 10:28

87yo woman tasered by Georgia police, excessive force lawsuit pending (VIDEO)

87yo woman tasered by Georgia police, excessive force lawsuit pending (VIDEO)

Harrowing footage has been released showing the arrest of an 87-year-old Syrian woman who was tasered by Georgia police, despite their dispatcher being made aware that she could not speak English.

The body camera footage of the August 2018 arrest on a Boys and Girls Club property has been released by Martha Al-Bishara’s lawyer, Jeff Dean. The woman’s guttural screams and gasps can be heard as she is tasered by Chatsworth police officer Steven Marshall.

Warning: Some readers may find this footage disturbing.

“Stop. Throw it down. Drop the knife. You’re going to get tased,” an officer says in the video.

“Why did you not stop?” an officer asks Al-Bishara as she is placed in handcuffs, while she is still audibly gasping for air and in clear discomfort.

A club employee spotted Al-Bishara and called the police to report a woman trespassing and cutting flowers with a small knife, but reportedly told the dispatcher that the woman was more of a trespasser than a threat. Crucially, the employee also informed the dispatcher that Al-Bishara does not speak English.

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The grandmother was arrested and charged with obstruction of an officer and criminal trespassing. She was released from jail two hours after being booked. Prosecutors have not pursued the charges but have not dismissed them.

“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,” her attorney said.

Dean has confirmed that an excessive force lawsuit is in the works and he expects to file within the next two months. The attorney claims Al-Bishara bears no ill will towards the officers but has not been the same since the incident and is reluctant to go outside in the community where she has lived for the past 20 years.

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“The last thing any member of our department wanted to do was use a taser on an elderly female. However, when she began to walk towards the officer, from an elevated position with a knife, the officer used the most reasonable amount of force that he could at the time,”  Chatsworth Police Chief Josh Etheridge said in a statement at the time of the arrest, in which he was involved. He has declined to comment following the release of the arrest footage on the advice of the department’s insurance company.

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