SYDNEY: A 95-year-old grandmother who Australian police tasered at an old people’s home is in critical condition as the homicide squad join a high-profile investigation into the incident, police said on Friday (May 19).
Police were called to the Yallambee aged care home in Cooma, about 300km south-west of Sydney, on Wednesday after staff found resident Clare Nowland outside her room holding a steak-knife, said assistant commissioner Peter Cotter at a press conference.
Two officers spoke with Nowland for several minutes but when she failed to drop the knife and approached them, one fired a taser, knocking her to the ground.
“At the time she was tasered she was approaching police but it is fair to say at a slow pace,” said Cotter.
“She had a walking frame, but she had a knife.”
Nowland, who suffers from dementia, had wandered the facility for several hours and taken the knife from the kitchen.
After first aid at the scene, Nowland was taken to Cooma District Hospital, where she is in a critical condition, fading in and out of consciousness.
Family have been at her bedside since Wednesday, said Cotter.
The officer who fired the taser was off duty pending a “level 1 critical incident investigation”, a category police reserve for exceptional cases where injuries lead to death or imminent death. The homicide squad is involved, Cotter said.
“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 Cotter.
Body cameras recorded the encounter but it was not in the public interest to release the footage because of the investigation, said Cotter.