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Elderly Woman With Dementia Tasered by Police in Australia, Probe Underway


Last Updated: May 20, 2023, 04:42 IST

Clare Nowland is recognized in her community as a dedicated volunteer at a local charity, as reported by local news media. (Image: Rebecca Kavanagh/Twitter)

The incident has prompted community members, and disability advocates to express outrage, questioning the necessity of the officer’s use of force

An investigation is underway regarding the use of a Taser on a 95-year-old woman by an experienced officer in Australia, The New York Times (NYT) reported.

Clare Nowland, a 5-foot-2, 95-pound woman with dementia, was left in critical condition after the senior constable employed the weapon at a care facility where she resides.

According to the NYT report, the incident has prompted community members, rights activists, and disability advocates to express outrage, questioning the necessity of the officer’s use of force.

The New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner, Peter Cotter, addressed the matter during a news conference on Friday. He acknowledged that while  Nowland was approaching the police, her pace was slow. He stated, “She had a walking frame, but she had a knife.”

Authorities responded to a call at the Yallambee Lodge aged care facility in Cooma, New South Wales, after receiving reports of a resident wielding a knife, as explained by Cotter. They found Nowland holding a steak knife, which she had obtained from the kitchen earlier that day.

Efforts were made to negotiate with Nowland for several minutes, according to Cotter, but she did not drop the knife. When she approached the officers standing at the doorway of the room, one of them employed the Taser.

The entire incident, deemed “confronting” by Cotter, was captured on body camera footage.

An investigation has been launched by the New South Wales Police, and the officer in question, with 12 years of experience, has been suspended pending further inquiries. Cotter did not disclose whether the officer could face charges.

The investigation is classified as “Level One,” the highest level, and will involve the homicide squad due to the severity of Nowland’s injuries, which could potentially be fatal, according to Cotter.

Earlier police statements only mentioned that an older woman had sustained injuries during an interaction with the police at the aged care facility.

New South Wales police procedures explicitly state that “Conducted Electrical Weapons,” also known as Tasers, should not be used on older or disabled individuals “unless exceptional circumstances exist.”

Nowland is recognized in her community as a dedicated volunteer at a local charity, as reported by local news media.

She previously garnered media attention when she went skydiving to celebrate her 80th birthday.





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