Australian Policeman Tasers 95-Year-Old Woman With Dementia In Nursing Home, Investigations Ongoing

Australian Policeman Tasers 95-Year-Old Woman With Dementia In Nursing Home, Investigations Ongoing

Elderly Woman In Critical Condition After Police Tasers Her

When facing off with a dangerous individual, police officers can protect themselves by tasering the suspect before subduing them.

For some reason, however, one policeman in Australia decided that it was appropriate to use the device on a 95-year-old woman in a nursing home.

police tasers


The elderly woman, who has dementia, was reportedly carrying a knife during the confrontation.

She is now in the hospital and is in critical condition.

Police officer in Australia tasers knife-wielding 95-year-old woman

According to the BBC, the incident took place at Yallambee Lodge in Cooma, New South Wales (NSW), on Wednesday morning (17 May).

Staff had found 95-year-old Clare Nowland carrying a steak knife. reported that after the staff failed to retrieve the knife from her, they called the police at 4.15am.

Officers arrived to see the elderly woman, who has dementia, still “armed with the knife”, said NSW Deputy Commissioner Peter Cotter.

Despite their attempts to negotiate the return of the knife, Ms Nowland refused to give it up.

Ms Nowland then started approaching the officers with the aid of a walking frame at a “slow pace”.

One of the responding officers, whom ABC News described as a senior constable with 12 years’ experience, fired his taser at her.

This caused the elderly woman to fall to the ground and hit her head.

Elderly woman in critical condition after police officer tasers her

Reuters reported that the woman is currently in critical condition and is fading in and out of consciousness.

A family friend told the BBC that Ms Nowland was tasered twice — in the chest and in the back.

She allegedly suffered a fractured skull and a serious brain bleed as a result of the fall.

Her loved ones have already begun to grieve as they do not expect that she will survive, the family friend said.

Officer who tasered woman taken off duty

In a statement, NSW police said that a “critical incident team will now investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident”.

The investigation, they added, “will be subject to independent review”.

ABC News noted that the officer who tasered Ms Nowland has been removed from duty. However, he apparently still has his job for now.

“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,” said Mr Cotter, adding that the homicide squad is involved in the investigations as well.

A spokesperson for the council that operates the nursing home said that they are providing support to their staff, residents, and families “during this difficult time”, reported.

They declined to give further comment.

Incident sparks outrage

Needless to say, the story has shocked the local community and beyond.

Community groups, such as People with Disability Australia, are outraged at the “disproportionate response”, the BBC stated.

Nicole Lee, the president of the organisation, told ABC News, “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.”

She added that Ms Nowland needed someone to “handle her with compassion and time” instead of tasers.

On Friday (19 May), Dementia Australia released a statement expressing how “devastated” they are to hear of Ms Nowland’s situation.

They said that they have been getting calls and emails from people living with dementia, their families, and carers who are feeling angry and upset for her.

The incident has “highlighted the need for everyone working across healthcare industries to receive compulsory education about dementia to increase their understanding, knowledge and skills in dementia care”.

This also includes emergency services staff, like police officers.

Elderly woman in critical condition after being tasered

What happened to Ms Nowland was truly concerning and we wish her a speedy recovery.

Had the taser been misused, the officer should be held responsible for the damages.

We hope that the investigation will shed more clarity on the situation and that the family will get some closure.

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Featured image adapted from and Stephen Hyde/Alamy via The Guardian, for illustration purposes only.

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