Body camera video shows 87-year-old woman tased

 Lawyers for an 87-year-old woman who was tased, arrested and charged with trespassing after picking weeds in the yard of a north Georgia Boys and Girls Club have released body camera video from the encounter.

CHATSWORTH, Ga. — Lawyers for an 87-year-old woman who was tased, arrested and charged with trespassing after picking weeds in the yard of a north Georgia Boys and Girls Club have released body camera video from the encounter. 

Officers were also cleared of accusations of use of force, according to documents released. 

It was Aug. 10 when officers with the Chatsworth Police Department responded to a call for a woman - Martha Al-Bishara - walking on the property with a knife. 

The Boys and Girls Club said it had asked Al-Bishara several times, in her native language, to not be on the grounds of the club.

When police found the woman in the yard with a kitchen knife, they drew their weapons and told her to drop the weapon. She did not. Eventually, an officer used his taser to subdue the woman and handcuff her.

Body camera video released by the lawyers shows the situation from an approaching officer's perspective.

In a two-minute clip, two other officers can be heard shouting from a distance for Al-Bishara to drop the knife. 

"Stop! Stop! Throw it down!" the officers command. 

"You're going to get tased," an officer warns. "Put the knife down!"

The officers continue to yell commands before the pop of a taser being deployed is heard, followed by yelps from Al-Bishara. 

One of the officers asks the woman while attempting to handcuff, "Why did you not stop?" but Al-Bishara is unable to answer. The officers then lift her from the ground before handcuffing her. Officers then take the dandelions from her hands, pull the taser leads from her while trying to calm the 87-year-old.

In a longer, 18-minute clip, one of the officers can be heard asking, "Where's home at, ma'am?"

Al-Bishara shakes her head and continues speaking in another language. The other two officers point out her house across the street and the officer crosses to knock on the door. No one answers, so he crosses back to Al-Bishara where she's being held.

The officer asks, "Is that your casa?" attempting to ask in Spanish if that is where she lives, asking a follow-up question about where her son is. Al-Bishara answers in another language.

The officer continues to try and ask her questions as Al-Bishara tries to cross to her house - neither understanding the other. After several minutes, her family arrives at the scene.

Police try to put Al-Bishara in the back of a police car, as family explains the woman frequently wanders the area picking dandelions. 

The officer asks for family to politely ask Al-Bishara to get fully inside the car so she can be transported to jail.

"Please, she is an old lady," someone appeals.

"No, I get it. But you can't have knives," the officer replies.

Family explains Al-Bishara has dementia and does not speak English, though a review ultimately found that the former claim of dementia was untrue. When officers ask why she was at home alone, they added that she was at home with her husband and they had left quickly to go get food and come back.

Police ultimately take Al-Bishara to jail where she was charged with criminal trespass and obstruction of an officer. 

Officials, including the District Attorney's office, conducted separate investigations in tandem, which found that officers acted reasonably when they used a taser to subdue Al-Bishara. 

According to a use of force review, an independent agency came to the conclusion that the officers who responded acted according to the basic, though incomplete, information from dispatch - that there was a person armed with a knife at the Boys and Girls Club. The review said the officers had no way of knowing the language barrier or guess Al-Bishara's mental state before responding. The review further stated that out of the officers' three choices - backing down, using physical force or deploying a taser - using the taser was the best option given the limited facts the officers had at the time.

Ultimately, at the conclusion of both investigations, District Attorney Bert Poston decided not to pursue formally charging Al-Bishara.


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