Investigation launched after Australia police taser elderly woman with dementia News
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Investigation launched after Australia police taser elderly woman with dementia

An Australian police force is launching an internal investigation after police officers tasered a 95-year-old woman at an elderly care facility. In a statement released last week, the New South Wales Police Force confirmed that “[a] critical incident investigation has been launched after an elderly woman sustained injuries during an interaction with police at an aged care facility in the state’s south today.”

Clare Nowland was taken to hospital in critical condition on Wednesday after the police tasered her, causing her to strike her head as she to fell to the ground. Two police officers were summoned to Yallambee Lodge, an aged care facility in Cooma, southern NSW, where Nowland was believed to be carrying a knife. In a press conference, NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Peter Cotter confirmed that Nowland was alone in her room at the time of the incident, and had used a walking frame to approach the police officers.

“At the time she was tasered, she was approaching police. It is fair to say at a slow pace. She had a walking frame. But she had a knife,” Cotter said.

The incident was captured on one of the attending police officers’ body cameras and would form part of the investigation.

Disability advocates have criticised the police response, stating that excessive force was used against Nowland. People with Disability Australia President Nicole Lee condemned the incident, stating that there was a lack of resources to handle altercations with people with disabilities.

“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,” Lee said.

A media release from Dementia Australia stated that the organisation has been contacted by many people living with dementia, their families and carers, expressing anger and sadness about the incident.

“While situations like this are rare, tragically this has highlighted the need for everyone working across healthcare industries to receive compulsory education about dementia to increase their understanding, knowledge and skills in dementia care,” Dementia Australia stated.

The Snowy Monaro Regional Council, owners of Yallambee Lodge, confirmed that a report had been made to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, and urged that all inquiries regarding the incident be directed to NSW Police.

“Our focus remains on supporting and caring for the residents of Yallambee Lodge during this exceptionally difficult time,” the Council stated.