Police Officers At A Tactical Disadvantage Bravely Tase 87-Year-Old Woman Into Submission

from the when-u-gain-the-high-ground-just-by-showing-up dept

No police department should ever have to explain why they tased an 87-year-old woman. It’s not that the public doesn’t deserve an explanation. It’s that there is seldom any reason to deploy force against 5’2″ 87-year-old. But that’s what Chatsworth Police Chief Josh Etheridge had to do after one of his officers tased the woman during a “confrontation” behind the local Boys and Girls Club.

The police chief of a small Georgia town is defending an officer who deployed a stun gun on a “smiling” 87-year-old woman, saying she refused to comply with numerous commands to put down a kitchen knife she was using to cut dandelions.

Perhaps we civilians just don’t appreciate the danger presented by a smiling 87-year-old woman — in this case, Martha al-Bishara, who lived across the street from the Boys and Girls Club. I mean, she was carrying a kitchen knife and “refused” to put it down. If we could just see the recordings…

He said there is police body-camera footage of the incident, but he has yet to release it because charges against al-Bishara are pending.


Because we civilians probably can’t imagine a situation where we might have to use a stun gun against an octogenarian, here’s some helpful statements by the PD to help us visualize how a 5’2″ 87-year-old got the drop on responding officers.

“We were able to contain her to the back area. She was in an elevated position above both myself and the other officer that was there on scene. She did have a knife in her right hand.”

I understand the only way out of this debacle is going straight through it, but it’s astounding the chief is actually trying to present this as a dynamic situation in which officers were at a tactical disadvantage. It was two (2) officers against a 5’2″ 87-year-old woman who didn’t speak English. It seems they could have regained the high ground by walking at a normal rate of speed around her. And if it looked like she might charge them, they could have walked slightly faster. (And it’s your own damn fault you “contained” her on the high ground.)

But we’re supposed to be grateful she was only tased. Chief Etheridge twice suggests she could have been shot. First, she might have been “accidentally” shot because an officer might have pulled a gun for god knows what reason…

Etheridge said he realizes that some people might ask why the officer didn’t just retreat. But he said had the officer backed up down the sloping terrain, he could have fallen and accidentally shot the woman.

Go ahead and click through to view the gently sloping terrain for yourself. I guess this explanation is plausible. But that doesn’t make it any less stupid. And the only plausible part is the “accidental” part. As we know, officers never shoot citizens. Their weapons “discharge” magically and fill citizens with bullet wounds. The only way an officer could “fall” and “accidentally” shoot someone is if the officer already has a gun out and pointing at the person. This is Chief Etheridge admitting he would have escalated to deadly force to “resolve” the situation.

Second, if the elderly woman had changed her grip on her kitchen knife in any way during the incident, she’d probably be dead right now.

“Lord help us if she had tried to stop the officer and held the knife in an aggressive manner, and then deadly force would have been used.”

There are many problems with this statement, including the fact that “aggressive manner” is in the eye of the gun-wielding, badge-wearing beholder, but here’s just one of them: for many people, knives are tools, not weapons. Its police officers who insist every tool is a weapon that keep situations like these from being de-escalated.

When an 87-year-old walks down a hill towards officers carrying a kitchen knife, she’s not taking advantage of the high ground to overpower officers. She just wants to know why cops are yelling and pointing weapons at her. But these cops didn’t want to know what she was doing. They just wanted her to stop walking around with a knife. So they tased her. And then they charged her. Here’s one final detail from the story which indicates how little these officers actually care about the people they serve.

The grandmother was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor criminal trespass and obstruction of an officer and held at the police station for about three hours, Douhne said. Police refused to allow his mother and sister to interpret for al-Bishara while she was being booked and having her mugshot taken.

At the end of the day, I guess we’re supposed to be grateful officers showed up, took control of the situation, and got this 87-year-old miscreant off the street, if only for a few hours. I’m sure we’ll see these same defensive statements again in the eventual civil rights lawsuit. When that happens, the cops will have to convince an actual court the force deployment wasn’t excessive. Unfortunately for this woman, that court is far more easily persuaded than the court of public opinion.

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Comments on “Police Officers At A Tactical Disadvantage Bravely Tase 87-Year-Old Woman Into Submission”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Look out police, that is only your shadow

She was gathering dandelions. I took a look at that picture, and am having a hard time seeing someone 87 years old hopping that fence, or breaking open a gate which is not shown. While the property was owned by a club, it was vacant, with an apparently open gate, or a break in the fence. A vacant lot and the club called the police because they felt threatened by an 87 year old lady?

Why dandelions? There is an explaination for that at the end of this post at Appellate Squawk.

She doesn’t speak English, so they try Spanish. That doesn’t work because she is Greek. Then they refused to allow her family to translate (one presumes both from and to her) at the police station.

I sure hope these cops don’t run into anything that is actually life threatening, one can only guess what their reaction might be, but you can be sure shots will be fired.

Maybe Chief Etheridge should take that class in Tulsa. He could learn a thing or two about victimization.

David says:

Re: What the hell kind of training do cops get these days?

Pay attention. She was a 87-year old Greek, not a 87-year old U.S. cop. She likely had the drop in agility on both cops. She could have run circles around them until they puked donuts, then stabbed them from behind and hidden the corpses under dandelions before backup arrived.

cowboysrule (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The scary thing is when you see a video showing obvious use of successive force and the police chief say’s the cops behaviour is “consistent with their training”. That statement right ther simply says they are NOT out there to serve and protect the public. They are simply there to injure and kill as many people as possible while serving and protecting EACH OTHER. YOU CAN’T FIX STUPID!!!!

cowboysrule (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“An expert knife thrower”. Brilliant beyond words!!! I am honestly surprised she survived given all the videos I have watched showing excessive force. Colorado police also took down a VERY dangerous 73 year old weighing 80 lbs. with dementia. Name is Karen Garner if you are interested in watching more video where the cops lives were in “danger. I will not give any details other than to say I was on the verge of tears just imagining this being my mother. Sickening is an understatement. Also tased a 75 year old named Michael Black all because he dared disobey an order to get on the ground. May these cops BURN IN HELL!!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: How about some Rules of Engagement?

_These trigger happy cops keep thinking they’re in combat but they aren’t given any limitations. This would be a basis for a War Crime._

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you aren’t a native english speaker because the only alternative is you are a nutter, mate. Cheers.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: War crimes by peacekeepers.

Suggesting the police commit war crimes would not really be saying much. Given the difference in operating policies between law-enforcement and warfighters, rules of engagement for one don’t generally work for the other.

For instance, soldiers are supposed to use solid-slug ammunition (typically FMJ rounds) when fighting against infantry or common military units. The use of hollowpoint rounds is considered cruel to unarmed human targets, and would be regarded as a war crime.

On the other hand, Law enforcement typically use hollowpoint or glazier rounds because they reduce penetration of missed shots. This is typically an advantage when shooting in an occupied municipal area, where an assault rifle shooting FMJ rounds could penetrate eleven homes. (We tested!)

It’s entirely true that the US law enforcement services have been becoming more militarized, gaining military equipment from the department of defense, and choosing military standards (such as subdued insignia where police units should be easily identifiable as law enforcement agents of state)

It’s entirely true that US law enforcement agencies now act as if they are separate from the populations they are supposed to serve, in contrast to the Peelian principles they are trained to uphold. They are now a separate caste to whom different rules of law apply.

And it’s entirely true that US law enforcement agencies engage in a lot of crimes against humanity, resorting quickly and preemptively to the use of force, and using force disproportionately to the threats they face. They also torture or otherwise coerce to gain confessions or otherwise extract evidence, and this is before we get into common misconduct such as lying in testimony, planting evidence,exceeding forth-amendment protections against illegal search and seizure, resorting to SWAT tactics, using trick-pony dogs and false forensic tools to as evidence and so on.

But peacekeeping and law enforcement duties operate according to entirely different rules of engagement and as such resorting to methods that would be regarded in warfare as war crimes is ordinary.

Bluegrass Geek (profile) says:

Re: Re: War crimes by peacekeepers.

But peacekeeping and law enforcement duties operate according to entirely different rules of engagement and as such resorting to methods that would be regarded in warfare as war crimes is ordinary.

I think the point is that it shouldn’t be considered ordinary. The fact we do consider it ordinary is disturbing. Hence the call for at least some form of Rules of Engagement for law enforcement. Maybe not the same ones as our military, but something to move us away from this constant barrage of police misconduct we’re experiencing right now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: War crimes by peacekeepers.

“The fact we do consider it ordinary is disturbing.”

It is literally how it all works.

They oppress you until you speak out… then they wait… you get used to it, they oppress you again until you speak out, they wait again. So on and so forth until you don’t even realize oppression for what it is. It is just a normal part of your daily life now, and the bonus will be when you get to call everyone telling you that you are welcoming your oppression nutters, or victim blamers, or insert your favorite insult here.

At the end of the day, the government is a reflection of its people. The few oppress the many because the many do nothing.

StaticDischarge says:

I'd say those officers need to be tazed themselves...

Right at their balls (if they even have any), repeatedly, until everyone within a 12 block radius has had two turns tasing both officer’s scrotums.

Then and only then, would they be allowed to whimper home to their mommies.

Yeah, if this were a perfect world, the Chief would be included as well in this taze-fest.

cowboysrule (profile) says:


If I were given the opportunity to tase a cop, I would do so for 1 minute straight in the chest to make sure he was dead. I say this in reference to a BRAVE cop tasing a 17 yard old boy named Bryce Masters in Kansas City all because he refused to get out of the car. He was tased for 23 seconds straight in the chest and was lucky to survive. This maggot only got 4 years in prison after striking a plea deal even though he was arrested on 3 other charges and was facing 10 years in prison. Would love to confront this cockroach in public and challenge him to fight only if remove all the weapons on him. Hopefully someone in Colorado ( preferably a sniper ) is SO enraged that they place themselves on a roof, wait until they locate this officer out in a public and empty their AK47 or AR15 into this so of a bitch’s head!!!!!!!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Cowards in blue

87 years old, holding a kitchen knife to cut flowers, against two officers, and the police chief is trying to spin it as though she was lucky she was ‘only’ tased, rather than killed on the spot, as though she was to blame, not his cowardly, trigger happy goons.

I’d say cowards like that and the scum defending them need to find new jobs but honestly with a showing like this pretty sure I wouldn’t trust them to so much as run a lemonade stand without trying to hospitalize and/or kill someone for ‘reaching for a gun!’/their wallet

cowboysrule (profile) says:


Cowards in blue Considering how they handled this DANEROUS LIFE THREATENING situation, I am not sure they would qualified to run a lemonade stand unless they were given VERY detailed instructions. MAYBE a porta potty, although even that would be mesmerizing for them. Shame on that police chief saying these BRAVE cops didn’t do anything wrong.

cattress (profile) says:

If it were my grandmother...

Did none of these goons have grandmothers, great-aunts, elderly neighbors, or ever enter a grocery store or Ho-jo’s any weekday before 2pm? Many, if not most, elderly people are hearing impaired. My Mommom loved NASCAR and when I would pull up in front of her house on Sundays the mirrors of my car would visibly shake from her television inside. And rather than ask someone to repeat what they said a little louder for her, she would pretend she heard what you said and respond with her best guess of what she thought you said- which could be so off and random you couldn’t help but laugh.

If this was my Mommom…. dammit this infuriates me so much, I think I would end up dead confronting them, that is unless they keel over from fright first. If I had the spare cash I would send pallets worth of adult diapers to the police station…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Sorry, but this is a month old news.

A week old is not a month old news. And I really dislike yesteryear’s news. Further, that grandma didn’t speak nor understood any english, being from Syria or some neighboring country. Further, why ACAB fits to most american coppers but not most of european coppers/bobbies is well beyond me…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Sorry, but this is a month old news.

“A week old is not a month old news.”


“And I really dislike yesteryear’s news”

So? This site doesn’t just cover recent news.

“Further, that grandma didn’t speak nor understood any english, being from Syria or some neighboring country.”

So… that excuses the behaviour of the officers? Do people now lose their rights and deserve to be given treatment that may kill them just because they don’t speak the correct language now?

“Further, why ACAB fits to most american coppers but not most of european coppers/bobbies is well beyond me…”

Because they earn the title more than they do? Because officers in those other places are trained to de-escalate situations non-violently, whereas the Americans can’t wait to use their weapons on helpless people?

XcOM987 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sorry, but this is a month old news.

"Further, why ACAB fits to most american coppers but not most of european coppers/bobbies is well beyond me…"

Because they earn the title more than they do? Because officers in those other places are trained to de-escalate situations non-violently, whereas the Americans can’t wait to use their weapons on helpless people?

Completely agree, had this been in say the UK (And we don’t exactly have the best police in the world) this would have been delt with soo much better, the police office wouldn’t have even had a weapon drawn, would have approched, attempted to communicate verbally, had that failed they would have tried with hand gestures and approach in a calm and controlled way. they would have only resorted to defence had she attacked the officers, and even then it would be a tazer, they would have just subdued her with physical force (Note, not excessive)

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Sorry, but this is a month old news.

I know it’s hardly the best or most objective way of gathering information, but during those TV programmes that show clips of traffic stops and the like from the US, I was always struck by how quickly the cops escalated situations out of hand. Quite often, the cop seemed to be itching for a fight and almost demanding that the person give them an excuse to use violence. Many, many times there would be opportunities to defuse the situation and leave everyone happy, but instead ended up with physical violence or even shootings.

Whereas, having grown up in the UK, local cops even having a gun to use in the first place would be an unusual sight, and most situations get resolved without such things. In the other countries I’ve lived in, the focus seems to be on avoiding a fight, whereas for many in the US it seems to be on causing one.

cowboysrule (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

I think police in ANY other country dealing with this “confrontation” would have handled it completely differently. I recall hearing how cops in the U.K. used to use rubber bullets to subdue citizens. Unfortunately cops in the U.S. shoot to kill then sometimes cuff them when they know they are dead. Completely GUTLESS!!!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

I was all ready to get angry at some police brutality, but then I read she had a musselim name and didn’t speak English. Definitely a sleeper turrist cell. They has the sharingan law in them desert countries, and that’s no joke! I have seent them grandmas walk on walls and cast lightening, nothing is more scary than a smiling old musselim woman of a sharingan country, believe it!

David says:

Re: Re:

You think it funny to leave off the “sarcasm” warnings. That’s how things like the “Flat Earth Society” get started. Think of the children. The breathtakingly stupid U.S. children of tomorrow educated in today’s public schools striving to reach the level of intelligence expected from tomorrow’s presidents.

Anonymous Coward says:

Tasers, when first deployed, were advertised as an alternative to deadly force. To be used in place of deadly force when possible.

Years later, the taser is being used as a compliance enforcement device, a method of extracting revenge and a tool for torture.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, LEOs everywhere claim the taser is not being abused and is a vital tool in their arsenal.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Stereotypes go both ways.

There was a moment I remember in the premiere of Gotham (S01E01) in which Harvey Bollock, the grizzled cynic of the Bullock / Gordon duo, is lamenting that he killed a guy (who shot at him first) because they learned post hoc the guy was framed.

Bollock, in the Gotham City PD — allegedly the most corrupt police department in the United States — feared for his badge for shooting an armed man who shot at him first. And this was after Ferguson.

No, the stereotype I know from Hollywood is that the police are — with clear, mean-looking mustachioed exceptions — entirely well meaning, they’re super cautious, they take protect and serve to heart, and the loose cannons, the bad apples, the cops on the take (mob bribes) are the exceptions. And those guys always get killed in the end.

In real life, law enforcement is the mob. The bad apples are the sergeants and chiefs. Good guys (what’s left of them) have to tread carefully not to get displaced or confined to a desk.

shelley (profile) says:


For what it’s worth, the lady is 4ft 10in tall. Her mug shots show her height clearly.
There were three officers, and as I recall, two had pulled guns, and one had his taser out. They were frightened of retreating because she could have advanced on them quickly and deployed her garden knife (she was more than 5 yards away). She could have disabled the two nearest officers while the third, behind them, was fumbling with his gun.
How do they train the police in America?
After tasing the 87 year old lady she was handcuffed and taken to the station, and not given medical attention for more than three hours.
Tasers are less lethal weapons, not non-lethal weapons, and are not supposed to be used on elderly persons, I thought.

Anonymous Coward says:

The PIGS must be chuckling and partying and jumping with joy and high fiving or fist bumping or whatever with glee and congratulating the ones who did this. They probably gave a bonus and award to the one who tased this old woman. They were however just a little surprised and disappointed that she didn’t DIE from the tasing.
They must have categories for handing out these awards, such as:
Tasing the oldest nonthreatening woman,
Tasing the oldest nonthreatening man,
Tasing the youngest weakest non threatening woman possible,
Tasing or shooting the youngest child possible who could possibly as justification pass as an adult from behind,
Shooting the highest number of blacks for the crime of being black and going about their mundane daily business,
Like being at home in the middle of the night minding his own business, wow imagine the accolades she is getting because that one really takes the prize (I’m just curious as can be about how they plan to get away with this one),
Shooting and killing the youngest child possible who is holding a fake gun and who happens to be black of course because that would NEVER happen to a white child,
What else … I know I’m forgetting something. They must have the award system down to a science with charts and graphs and subcategories within categories, and cross linking between genres, think of the possibilities! What else could possibly explain this rash of police brutality?!?!?!?! Wake up people, they are being rewarded!!!!!!
Now in a special category by itself which are sure to garner many bonus points are tasing and shooting incidents which involve failure to respond to their commands. Being naturally obtuse I believe, the thugs with guns do not seem to understand along with the fact that they don’t care that not everyone speaks English or Spanish and that some people are <gasp> … DEAF … Failing to respond to an officer’s oral command means the DEATH PENALTY by COP. (Which is why they were so surprised they didn’t kill the dandelion lady. He might have been penalized with a loss of points for that.) So this must be the biggest prize of all … when the victim at the hands of the police DOESN’T UNDERSTAND or CAN’T HEAR their commands. Shooting and killing garners more points than tasing obviously. **WINNER**WINNER**WINNER**

cowboysrule (profile) says:


Interesting you mentioned fist bumping. Believe it or not, cops in Colorado actually took down a 73 year old lady with dementia who weighed a whopping 80 lbs. soaking wet all because she tried to leave a Walmart without paying for $13.88 worth of merchandise. I wonder what that employee who called police must have thought when he/she found out what the police did to this 80 lb. “monster”. If that isn’t bad enough, when they went back to the station, the cops involved laughed and fist bumped each other as they watched the body cam footage. All the while leaving this poor lady in a room for 6 hours even though she needing medical attention. They actually dislocated her her shoulder while apprehending her. NO FUCKING WORDS!!!!!!

K Brown (profile) says:

Someone needs to explain

I see these types of things constantly on the internet. The cops say this, that and whatever, but…
It seems to me, if I was arrested for something, that I would appear in court prepared, I would as the judge exactly why the word of the cop is always taken as fact. I would then supply an inch or so of documents showing cops being caught lying, planting evidence etc, and then ask again what makes a cops word more accurate and truthful than mine.
I would be willing to bet no judge would be able to supply an answer.
If nothing else, I would have established reasonable doubt as to what the cop said.
Now, this only works if you did nothing wrong, and the cop just pulled a “I’m a cop, my word is law”.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: "no judge would be able to supply an answer."

The problem is, no judge has to. They and juries often believe law enforcement simply because they are the police. And the judge doesn’t need to explain himself.

It’s the same way judges don’t have to explain why we believe a $2 preliminary drug test known for false positives entirely indicates that drugs were present without further testing.

It’s the same way judges don’t have to explain why we still think dog sniffs aren’t a search themselves, but when they signal an indication of probable cause, even when they yield up to 93% false positives, and it is known some trainers train trick pony dogs that signal whenever the handler wants him to.

The legal system is not interested in justice, but in convictions. And filling jail cells. They have no interest in actual investigation and resent efforts to exculpate falsely-convicted inmates.

It may just be that we built the entire system wrong so it pursues the wrong objectives.

cowboysrule (profile) says:


Cops quite regularly falsify reports which is obviously illegal. The scary thing is, when they realize they have violated a citizen’s rights, they can be seen starting to concoct some bullshit story of how they “feared for their lives” or some other crap. The most disgusting thing is when an internal review is completed and the police chief says “we have reviewed the footage and feel the actions of the officers was in line with our training”. In that case, I would hate to see what a training session would look like. Yikes!!!!!

cowboysrule (profile) says:

Can someone please tell me why there would EVER be an internal investigation conducted? If it is not done by an independent 3rd party outside the police force, they shouldn’t bother because we already know what their response will be 99% of the time. In Ontario, Canada, when police are involved in any kind of altercation that leads to injury or death, the SIU will be asked to investigate. SIU stands for “Special Investigation Unit”. It was formed in 1992. This an ABSOLUTE joke because guess what the SIU is made up of? Mostly former police officers. I don’t need to say any more!!!!

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