Brisbane, Australia () — Homicide detectives in Australia are investigating why a police officer felt so threatened by a 95-year-old woman, who was walking with a walker and a knife, that he opted to shoot her with a ‘taser’ inside a nursing home where the woman lives. women.
Clare Nowland, a great-grandmother with dementia, is in critical condition in hospital after she was shocked with a taser by a senior police officer early Wednesday morning.
Peter Cotter, deputy commissioner of the New South Wales police force, tried to explain the police actions at a press conference on Friday, after seeing video of the incident that was caught on two police body cameras.
“At the moment they shot him, he was approaching the police. It’s fair to say at a slow pace. She had a walker. But she had a knife. I can’t keep thinking about what was going through someone’s mind when she used the ‘taser,’” Cotter said.
The community is outraged by the events that took place at Yallambee Lodge in Cooma, a small town about 100 kilometers south of the national capital, Canberra.
Andrew Thaler, a local community advocate, said Nowland’s family, which includes eight children and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, take turns keeping watch at his bedside.
“I don’t think there will be a recovery. The “tasers” knock down bulls and adult men. She is a very small woman,” said Thaler, who is helping the family, who have asked for privacy as they deal with the events of the past few days.
Nowland has dementia and had lived in the house for five years, Thaler said.
“She had good days and bad days, which is standard,” he added, describing her as physically frail.
“This woman couldn’t stand without a walker. She’s not that strong. She weighs around 43 kilos and is 1.58 meters tall. This is an outrage,” she added.
This is how the attack with the ‘taser’ happened
Police say they received a call to the address at around 4:15 a.m. Wednesday about reports of a resident with a knife. Two officers found Nowland in her bedroom, knife in hand, Cotter said during Friday’s briefing.
“It’s fair to say that she was armed with that knife. It was a serrated edge steak knife that she had obtained in the kitchen area of the nursing home a couple of hours earlier,” she said.
Police and paramedics negotiated with Nowland for several minutes, urging her to drop the knife, Cotter said, but “for whatever reason, Clare wouldn’t.”
“Clare walked up to the door where the police were at the time, and the officer, the only officer, fired the taser,” he said.
Nowland fell to the ground and hit his head.
“The injury she sustained as a result of hitting her head on the ground left her bedridden at this time,” Cotter said. “She loses and regains consciousness.”
Video and audio of the incident was captured by two police body cameras, which Cotter said were “comparing to each other.”
“I have seen it and I understand what I have seen,” said Cotter, adding that the images would not be published because they are “not in the public interest”.
Some questions after the attack
Nowland is a well-known member of the community and drew local media attention when he went skydiving to celebrate his 80th birthday. He did it again at 85, according to Thaler.
The officer who fired his ‘taser’ has not been identified other than being a senior officer with 12 years of experience, who is no longer in service. Homicide detectives are involved because of the severity of the incident, Cotter said.
He did not speculate whether the officer who fired the taser would be charged.
“If a threshold is reached, where it goes from being a departmental issue to a criminal issue, we are certainly mature and transparent enough as an organization to do what needs to be done,” he said.
Cotter said tasers are typically used as a defensive tool when someone’s life is threatened.
“We say it’s there as a piece of equipment to defend yourself when you believe your life is in danger, or someone else’s life is in danger, when you are in genuine fear and threaten to be physically overpowered, if there is a violent confrontation taking place. , but of course those facts have to be real,” he said.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb issued a statement on Thursday saying her thoughts were with Nowland’s family.
“I understand and share the concerns of the community and I assure you that we are treating this matter with the utmost seriousness,” he said.
The Snowy Monaro Regional Council, which operates Yallambee Lodge, said the council was “supporting our staff, residents and families during this difficult time” and declined to comment further due to the investigation.
The council’s website describes the shelter as a 40-bed senior care facility with private rooms and private bathrooms, staffed by registered nurses, staffed by RNs, RNs and caretakers.
Thaler said the community wants to know why the officer thought it necessary to taser a frail elderly woman known to have dementia who could not possibly have posed a threat.
“There is simply no excuse for it. But it happened. We want to know why and how,” she said.