It is not well-known in Georgia that dandelion salad is a favorite dish of natives of certain foreign countries. For an 87-year-old Chatsworth woman who was naturalized as a U.S. Citizen over 15 years ago, going into a neighboring field to dig up dandelions was a perfectly natural and nonthreatening activity. For police called to the scene, it was a threatening confrontation that justified using a stun gun on the woman and then arresting her for obstruction of an officer and misdemeanor criminal trespass, charges that will require a criminal defense.
Apparently, a worker at a nearby Boys and Girls Club got paranoid about a nearly 90-year-old woman picking dandelions with a kitchen knife — concerned enough to call the police. The caller placed the call as a 911 emergency. The caller noted that the old woman was old, could not get around well and seemed to be cutting vegetation with a knife.
Police say that when they questioned the woman at the scene, she simply smiled back and talked mostly in a foreign language. Since these events, the old woman’s family have questioned why the police did not use common sense and defuse the situation instead of using violence. After all, the old woman was smiling and not doing anything threatening.
The Chatsworth Police Chief personally responded with another officer, and he reported that they “contained” the woman where she was digging dandelions. The Chief lamented what would have happened if the woman had used the knife in a threatening manner; his statements, however, prove the opposite. She did not in fact act in a threatening way. As it turned out, she is a grandmother with nine children who came here 20 years ago from a Middle Eastern country.
She says that she was trying to tell the officers to contact her son-in-law, a retired pastor and school teacher in Georgia, when they used a stun gun on her. The family now seems more concerned about her injuries than presenting a criminal defense to the charges. Because the police took the woman’s mug shots and fingerprinted her at the station, while refusing to let family members translate for her, the family may be well-advised to defend the charges but to also pursue the tort claim without further hesitation.