Family of 91-year-old calls his charges by Memphis police ‘unacceptable’

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A Memphis family is questioning the police’s decision to handcuff their 91-year-old family member on Swift Street and charge him with disorderly conduct.

Police said Otha Thurmond, 91, was waving a stick in an aggressive manner, but neighbors said it was the officers who were being aggressive.

“The neighbor that lives around the corner, she called me yesterday and told me that my dad was on the TV, and I’m like, 'What happened?' Because we didn’t know about it," said Lillie Wilborn, daughter of Thurmond.

► Related: 90-year-old man detained after allegedly pointing stick at officers

Neighbors called WREG after they say police officers were aggressive with Thurmond, who’s lived in the neighborhood for about 50 years.

They say police put him against a police cruiser and cuffed him.

“It was very disappointing, very disappointing the way he was treated," said Wilborn.

The police report says officers were in the Riverside neighborhood for a disturbance call and told Thurmond, who was outside, not to worry about what they were doing.

They said they also told Thurmond to stop waving around a stick in his hand, but officers report he kept waving it in “an aggressive manner” toward them, which led to police taking his stick and detaining him.

Neighbors and family said Thurmond can be seen walking the neighborhood with the stick every day and he says he uses it to keep away stray dogs.

His family also says he has nerve problems that cause the arm movements, among other health issues.

“He’s got three pacemakers and he’s got macro degenerative and he can’t hear and he told them that," said his daughter.

Thurmond was released with a misdemeanor citation.

"I’ve never been in jail in my life," said Thurmond. "I never paid a traffic ticket."

He said he’s not going to let this incident bother him, while his family wants police to be held accountable for their actions.

"With the help from the Lord, I’m tough," said Thurmond. "Without him, you’re not tough."

We reached out to police to get more information and a statement about this arrest, but have not heard back. We’ve requested body camera footage from the incident as well.

Thurmond’s family says they’re grateful his neighbors looked out for him.

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