95-Year-Old Woman, a Dementia Patient, in Critical Condition After Australian Police Taser Her

The woman is said to be in critical stage in the hospital

A 95-year-old old grandmother was in critical condition after two police officers shocked her with a stun gun in a nursing home in New South Wales, Australia. Clare Nowland, the woman in her 90's, is a dementia patient and reportedly walked with a steak knife in one hand towards them in a walking frame. The extraordinary action by the officers has prompted a high-level internal investigation.

Clare Nowland

After staff reported that the great-grandmother had taken a serrated steak knife from the kitchen, two police officers went to Yallambee Lodge in the New South Wales state town of Cooma, a nursing home that specializes in residents with higher care needs, including dementia.

According to nursing home staff, they found Clare Nowland standing with a steak knife in her hand, standing in front of her room. According to the staff, Nowland took a serrated knife from the kitchen. Police were called to pacify the old woman to help her drop the knife.

After reaching at nursing home officers tried to convince her several times to drop the knife. After she fails to leave the knife and started approaching them in a walking frame, one of the officers fired a taser, knocking her down on the floor." Nowland has since been taken to the hospital and is said to be fading in and out of consciousness.

The officer who used the stun gun has been taken off duty. The homicide staff has been involved in the investigation. Although the body cameras of both the officers present recorded the incident the footage has not been released as it is part of an internal investigation.

The incident has sparked the debate use of Taser-brand conducted devices. Nicole Lee, president of the advocacy group People with Disability Australia, said she was shocked by the violence. She told the Australian broadcast corporation. "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 on those police officers and there really needs to be some accountability on their side."

Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter declined to say whether he thought a police officer with 12 years of experience had used excessive force by firing a stun gun at an elderly woman who stands 1.57 meters (5 foot, 2 inches) tall and weighs 43 kilograms (95 pounds).