Australia: 95-Year-Old Woman Tased By Police
The police department in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) is facing criticism after an officer used a Taser on 95-year-old Clare Nowland, who is now in the hospital in critical condition and is not expected to survive
- The police department in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) is facing criticism after an officer used a Taser on 95-year-old Clare Nowland, who is now in the hospital in critical condition and is not expected to survive.1
- Nowland, a resident at a care home in Cooma, suffers from dementia and was carrying a steak knife in the early morning hours (local time) on Wednesday. After staff and officers were unable to de-escalate the situation, Nowland was tased after approaching the officers, causing her to fall and suffer a serious brain bleed.2
- The officer who fired the Taser is on leave pending an internal investigation. NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter said Nowland was moving toward the officers "at a slow pace" and was using a walker, but he wouldn’t comment on the potential of excessive force being used.3
- Cotter said the police force is "mature and transparent" enough to handle an investigation and "do what has to be done" if it becomes a criminal matter. Bodycam footage from the incident will not be released while the investigation is pending.3
- The Snowy Monaro Regional Council has declined to comment on the Yallambee Lodge incident, saying they are assisting "staff, residents, and families during this difficult time."4
Sources: 1Guardian, 2BBC News, 3Al Jazeera, and 4CBS.
- Narrative A, as provided by The Sydney Morning Herald. Nowland is a beloved, active member of her community well into her advanced age and didn't let her dementia slow her down. How a 95-year-old using a walker posed a threat to officers we'll never know, and full accountability and transparency by the police are needed to help the community heal and ensure lessons are learned.
- Narrative B, as provided by Guardian. This case proves that police can no longer be the first-line option for those suffering from mental health crises. Government inquiries have found that those suffering from mental illness are too often criminalized, even in non-violent incidents, and this very sad encounter falls into that tragic category. Let's hope this incident spurs action on a new and more humane path for dealing with mental health crises.