95-year-old Australian woman is tasered by

Usman Deen

Global Courant 2023-05-19 18:09:42

Australian police are investigating why an experienced officer tasered a 95-year-old woman who approached him “at a slow pace” while holding a steak knife.

The woman, Clare Nowland, who is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 95 pounds, uses a walker and has dementia. She was left in critical condition after a senior officer used the gun on her Wednesday morning at the care facility where she lives, causing her to fall and hit her head, police said.

“At the time she was tasered, she was approaching police – but it is fair to say, at a slow pace,” New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter said at a news conference on Friday. “She had a walker, but she had a knife.”

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The press conference was held after people in the community, rights activists and disability advocates expressed outrage and asked whether the officer’s use of force had been necessary.

Paramedics and police were called to the Yallambee Lodge aged care home in the small town of Cooma, New South Wales, on Wednesday morning due to a report of a resident wielding a knife, Mr Cotter said.

They found Mrs. Nowland with a knife in her hand, he said, ‘and it is fair to say she was armed with that knife. The knife in question was a steak knife, a serrated knife,’ which she had retrieved from the kitchen a few hours earlier.

Although police tried to negotiate with Ms Nowland for “several minutes”, he said, “Clare did not drop the knife for any reason.”

As she approached the doorway of the room where the two officers were standing, one of them used the taser, he said.

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The episode, which Mr. Cotter described as “confrontational,” was captured on CCTV. He said New South Wales Police had opened an investigation but declined to say whether the officer could be prosecuted. The officer, who had 12 years of experience, has been suspended from active duty, he added.

The investigation will be classified as “Level One,” the highest level, and will include the homicide unit because the injuries Ms. Nowland sustained could lead to her death, he said.

One earlier police statement said only that an elderly woman suffered “injuries while interacting with police” at a retirement home.

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New South Wales say police procedures that “guided electric weapons”, as they are also known, should not be used on elderly or disabled people “unless there are exceptional circumstances”.

Ms. Nowland is known in her community as a longtime volunteer at a local charity, local news media reported. She was earlier picked up by the local news media when she went skydiving for her 80th birthday.

It wasn’t until the late 1980s that her health began to decline, said Andrew Thaler, a community advocate who spoke with Ms. Nowland’s family.

Her relatives were now grieving and preparing for her death, he said.

“They all have mixed feelings; they think she’ll pass tomorrow,” he said.

He rejected the idea that the police officer’s actions could be justified. “She’s 95, she weighs 43 kilos and is 5’6″ tall, and she can’t walk without a walking aid,” he said. “To say she would be a threat to the police is absurd.”

He said he wanted to see an independent investigation into the police actions and why the Yallambee Lodge had called them in the first place.

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties described the police response as “outrageous overreach”, and the president of People with Disability Australia told the Australia Broadcasting Corporation that retirement homes should better manage meetings with people with dementia and avoid the use of violence.

Jeff Morgan, the chief operating officer of the Snowy Monaro Regional Council, which runs the Yallambee Lodge, told the Daily Telegraph that staff followed procedures during the episode.

95-year-old Australian woman is tasered by

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