UPDATE: Charges against 87-year-old woman who was tased now dropped
UPDATE: Charges against the 87-year-old woman that was tased by a Chatsworth police officer have been dropped.
A letter from District Attorney Bert Poston to Chatsworth Police Chief Josh Etehridge detailed the sequence of events the led to the arrest of Martha Al-Bishara after a stun gun was used to subdue her. She had a knife in her hands according to police.
Family members said the elderly woman was cutting dandelions for a salad on the Boys and Girls Club's property.
In the letter, Poston also explains that Al-Bishara had been told by family members in her native Syrian language to not trespass on the private property.
Post said 'I find nothing inappropriate or unlawful about this use of force,' referring to the stun gun that was deployed on Al-Bishara.
He also said that the arrest was made under probable causes, and sided with the officers' handling of the incident.
The case has been closed.
PREVIOUS STORY: An attorney has released police body camera video showing his 87-year-old client being tased by a Chatsworth police officer.
Channel 3 spoke to Martha Al-Bishara's granddaughter by phone on Wednesday. She says her family is aware of the video, but it has been hard for some of them to watch. Their attorney, Jeff Dean, shared the video with Channel 3 on the family's behalf.
The video was captured from the body camera of one of three Chatsworth police officers who responded back in August 2018. It shows the moments before and after Al-Bishara was tased.
“Stop. Throw it down. Drop the knife. You're going to get tased,” an officer says.
This was shortly after a 911 caller spotted Al-Bishara on the Boys and Girls Club's property cutting dandelions with a knife.
Al-Bishara lives across the street from the property.
The officers who responded repeatedly told Al-Bishara to put the knife down. Moments later, the video shows one of the officers using his stun gun.
The officers continue shouting at the woman to put her knife down. The 87-year-old screams as she falls to the ground.
“Why did you not stop?” an officer asks Al-Bishara while she's on the ground moaning.
Al-Bishara was arrested and charged with obstruction of an officer and criminal trespassing.
Dean says this should have never happened.
“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,” he said. “Any danger that was there was something the officers created.”
Dean says since then the 87-year-old from Syria has not been the same.
“Her family tells me she is a different person,” Dean explained. “She used to spend a lot of time outside. She doesn't do that anymore. She's not quite as trusting of other people anymore. She's a lot more nervous, just being afraid.”
When Channel 3 reached out to the Chatsworth police chief in August, he sent a statement saying in part, "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.”
Channel 3 reached out again on Wednesday, but Chief Josh Etheridge said the department's insurance company has advised him not to comment. However, he said he was made aware of the video being shared on Tuesday night.
Dean plans to file a lawsuit claiming excessive force was used in the arrest. He expects that lawsuit will be filed within the next two months, but he says Al-Bishara has no ill will against the officers. He says she loves the community she has lived in for the past 20 years.
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