elderly woman


  • The dementia patient's family are already grieving as they don't think she will survive, a family friend said
  • Police said they are investigating the matter
  • Civil liberties group said that an independent watchdog should be the one to conduct the probe

A frail elderly woman in Australia with dementia was hospitalized Wednesday with life-threatening injuries after police Tasered her at a care home.

Members of a police homicide squad were dispatched to Yallambee Lodge in Cooma district in New South Wales (NSW) after receiving reports that a 95-year-old woman, identified as Clare Nowland, was "armed" with a steak knife in the early hours of Wednesday morning, NSW Assistant Police Commissioner Peter Cotter told reporters in a media conference Friday.

Two officers and a staffer at the care home tried to de-escalate the situation, but Nowland began approaching the police "at a slow pace" while carrying the knife, according to Cotter.

The elderly woman was then struck with Taser twice, in the chest and at the back, family friend Andrew Thaler told the BBC.

She immediately fell after she was Tasered, resulting in her hitting her head and suffering a fractured skull and a serious brain bleed.

"She had a walking frame. But she had a knife," Cotter said.

Thaler told the BBC that Nowland's family members are already grieving as they don't expect her to survive the grave injuries she sustained.

"The family are shocked, they are confused ... and the community is outraged," Thaler said.

"How can this happen? How do you explain this level of force? It's absurd," he added.

Rights groups are condemning the harsh and forceful policing of the elderly woman. Community groups like the NSW Council for Civil Liberties and People with Disability Australia (PwD) said that the incident exhibited "a very poor lack of judgment" on the police's side.

"She's either one hell of an agile, fit, fast and intimidating 95-year-old woman, or there's a very poor lack of judgment [from] those police officers," Nicole Lee, PwD president, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"This woman, an older woman of 95, she needed somebody to de-escalate the situation with her and talk to her, and to handle her with compassion and time and not Tasers," she added.

NSW police said that they are now investigating the incident, and the senior constable involved is already under review and no longer working, The Guardian reported.

However, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties is calling for an external watchdog such as the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission to independently investigate the incident instead of the NSW police critical incident team.

"Police should never investigate police," the civil liberties group's president, Josh Pallas, said.

Yallambee Lodge, a 40-bed care home facility, was reportedly under intense pressure due to high levels of occupancy and the "inability to hire the required numbers of full-time staff members, including registered nurses."

Representational image (elderly woman)