Police officers explain why they tasered 95-year-old woman with dementia
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New South Wales Police have offered an explanation as to why a 95-year-old woman with dementia was tasered by their officers at a nursing home.
Detectives are investigating the use of the taser on the elderly woman in the Australian town of Cooma after two officers went to the Yallambee Lodge care home.
They were responding to a call that the 95-year-old had taken a steak knife from the care home kitchen and Clare Nowland was subsequently tasered by police.
Nowland then fell and struck her head on the floor, suffering from critical injuries before being taken to Cooma District Hospital on Wednesday (17 May).
Family have been around her bedside, with a representative for Nowland's relatives saying they don't expect her to survive.
The police have addressed the incident, with NSW police assistant commissioner Peter Cotter saying the body cam recordings from the officers showed 'confronting footage' which would form part of their internal investigation.
Cotter said it would 'not be in the public interest to be releasing that', and that the officer who fired the taser was off duty and facing 'level 1 critical incident investigation', which is a category for injuries which lead to death or imminent death.
He said: "As we meet here today, the status or the health of Clare is that she still remains in hospital, she remains in and out of consciousness, her family are with her.
"At the time she was tasered, she was approaching police. But it is fair to say at a slow pace. She had a walking frame. But she had a knife. I can’t take it any further as to what was going through anyone’s mind.
"If a threshold is met where it changes from being a departmental issue to being a criminal issue, we are certainly mature and transparent enough as an organisation to do what has to be done."
Cotter has said that the homicide squad are involved with the investigation, he also expressed his sympathy to Nowland's family as well has having spoken to one of the great-grandmother's daughters.
The incident involving the 95-year-old has kicked off a debate about police powers and whether they should be allowed to have tasers.
Nicole Lee, leader of the advocacy group People with Disability Australia, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the use of violence had been shocking to her.
She said: "She's either one hell of an agile, fit, fast and intimidating 95-year-old woman, or there’s a very poor lack of judgement on those police officers and there really needs to be some accountability on their side."