NSW Police have revealed more information about the 95-year-old woman who was tased twice on Wednesday morning in an official statement.
Clare Nowland was tased by NSW police and is currently receiving end-of-life care. She is reportedly “expected to die”, and is surrounded by loved ones.
Nowland was believed to have been making toast with a butter knife in the communal kitchen of Yallambee Lodge in Cooma at 4am when police were called to apprehend her.
She suffers from dementia and was reportedly tased while standing next to her walking frame.
“I want to highlight personally and on behalf of the organisation, the care and the empathy and the sympathy we feel for the Nowland family,” said NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter in an official press conference.
“An independent investigation is underway. We, the police, treat this matter with extreme significance.”
During the conference, Cotter revealed the knife Nowland was wielding was in fact a “steak knife”.
“She was in a room, she did have a knife in her hand and it is fair to say that she was armed with that knife,” he said.
Per Cotter, Nowland refused to drop the knife after she was asked to by police, and was then tasered by a “senior constable”.
“She remains in a critical condition,” he said.
“No further comment is available at the current time due to the ongoing investigation and out of respect for the privacy of those involved.”
Community advocate Andrew Thaler confirmed to Daily Mail Australia that Nowland’s family are now gathered around her in the hospital as she fights for her life.
She apparently has “two holes in her chest” from where the tasers pronged her.
“She could have wanted to make toast with a bread and butter knife, she’s confused. Her family is just incredulous [at what happened],” said Thaler.
According to Thaler, Yallambee Lodge only had around two trainers active at 4am whose responsibility it was to care for 40 patients across five houses, and one of them “may have panicked” when they saw Nowland wielding a knife.
It is unclear how Thaler obtained this information and whether it is reliable, but it is rooted in one verifiable fact — nursing homes are often understaffed and unsupported for the huge workload that is expected of them.
Let it be known that NSW Police guidelines make it clear that cops should only use the Taser when there is either the threat of being overpowered or when violent retaliation is imminent.
I really don’t think a 95-year-old woman with dementia holding a knife meets the categories of someone that could overpower or injure a police officer.
It’s clear that nobody in this situation had any idea how to deal with someone with dementia. Violence should not have even been considered in this situation, especially via Tasers, and it’s fucking gross that the cops went there. However, I’m not surprised.
“She’s either one hell of an agile, fit, fast and intimidating 95-year-old woman, or there’s a very poor lack of judgement on those police officers and there really needs to be some accountability on their side of this,” President of People with Disability Australia Nicole Lee told the ABC.
“This woman, an older woman of 95, she needed somebody to de-escalate the situation with her and to talk to her, and to handle her with compassion and time and not tasers.
“Clearly, there’s not enough training for police around de-escalation tactics for people with psychosis or Alzheimer’s or dementia, for people living with psychosocial disability, autism, or schizophrenia, or anything like that.”
Bloody hell. I knew cops were fkn rotten but this is just despicable.