Canberra – A 95-year-old woman with a walker and steak knife was shocked and sent to hospital in an Australian retirement home by police with a stun gun.
An internal investigation has been launched by senior police officers following the unusual arrest by police of Claire Nowland, who has dementia, in Cooma, New South Wales, on Wednesday. Nowland was in critical condition on Friday.
It has also sparked controversy over the use of stun guns (popularly known as tasers after the major manufacturer) by New South Wales police. These are less lethal than firearms, but in some cases have proven more dangerous than other police tools.
Two police officers headed to Yalumby Lodge, a nursing home that specializes in residents with dementia and other advanced care needs, after a staff member reported that Nowland had stolen a serrated steak knife from the kitchen.
Deputy Chief of Police Peter Cotter said a police officer with 12 years of experience used excessive force by firing a stun gun at an elderly woman who was 1.57 meters (5 feet 2 inches) tall and weighed 43 kilograms (95 pounds). He declined to say whether he thinks so or not. ).
Cotter said the police “negotiated” with the elderly woman for several minutes and used a stun gun as she approached the doorway where the police were standing.
“She was approaching the police when she was tased. But I would say it was a slow pace. She had a walker. I had a knife and I can’t think any further about what was in anyone’s mind,” Cotter told reporters.
Nicole Lee, head of the advocacy group Disabled Peoples Australia, said she was shocked by the violence.
“She is either a very agile, fit, fast and intimidating 95 year old woman, or there is such a lack of judgment in those police officers that they really need some accountability on their part. Either it is,” Lee said.
Police said Mr. Nowland’s injuries were not caused by a debilitating electric shock from a direct taser, but by banging his head on the floor.
Cotter described the footage of Nowland, captured from the body cameras of two police officers, as “face-to-face footage.” But he said the video was part of an internal police investigation and that “it is not in the public interest to release it.”
Cotter said the officer who fired the stun gun is now “not at work”, but it is unclear if he has been suspended.
Great-grandmother Nowland made headlines in 2008 when she went skydiving to celebrate her 80th birthday.
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https://www.local10.com/news/world/2023/05/19/australian-police-taser-95-year-old-with-dementia-as-she-approached-them-with-steak-knife-and-walker/ Australian police taser 95-year-old man with dementia holding steak knife