Police in Australia immobilized a 95-year-old woman who approached them using a walker and carrying a kitchen knife at a nursing home with a taser, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition after her head hit the ground. .
The arrest of Clare Nowland, who suffers from dementia, recorded on Wednesday, prompted a high-level internal police investigation.
The case has also sparked debate about how NSW State Police use stun guns, a less lethal option than firearms, but which have sometimes proven more dangerous than other police options.
It was the fall, not the electric shock
Police said Nowland was injured by hitting his head on the ground and not directly from the electric shock.
Two police officers went to Yallambee Lodge, a nursing home in the town of Cooma that specializes in residents with higher care needs, including dementia, after staff reported that Nowland had taken a serrated knife from the kitchen.
Deputy Police Commissioner Peter Cotter declined to say whether he thought an officer with 12 years of experience used excessive force when firing the stun weapon at the elderly woman, who is 5 feet 2 inches (1.57 meters) tall. and weighs 43 kilograms (95 pounds).
“negotiate” with a crazy person
Cotter said police tried to “negotiate” with Nowland for several minutes and used the stun gun as she slowly walked with her walker to the door where the officers were standing.
Nicole Lee, president of advocacy group People with Disability Australia, said she was surprised by the police response.
“Either she’s a lithe, fast, intimidating 95-year-old woman, or there’s a very poor judgment on those police officers and there really has to be some accountability on her part,” Lee said.
Cotter described the video from the two police officers’ body cameras as “confrontational footage.” But he said the video was part of an internal police investigation and “it would not be in the public interest to publish it.”
Nowland, a great-grandmother, made headlines in 2008 when she skydived to celebrate her 80th birthday.