BRISBANE, Australia (CNN) — Homicide detectives in Australia are investigating why a 95-year-old woman walking with a walker and a knife threatened a police officer so much that he decided to shoot her with a Taser inside a nursing home. Life is women.
Claire Nowland, a great-grandmother with dementia, remains in a critical condition in hospital after being shocked with a Taser by a senior police officer in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner Peter Cotter tried to explain police actions at a press conference on Friday after watching video of the incident caught on two police body cameras.
“By the time they shot him, he approached the police. It’s fair to say at a slow pace. She had a walker. But he had a knife. I can’t imagine what goes through someone’s mind when they use a Taser,” Cotter said.
The community has been outraged by the events at Yalambee Lodge in Cooma, a small town about 100 kilometers south of the national capital Canberra.
Andrew Thaler, a local community advocate, said Nowland’s family, which includes eight children and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, took turns keeping watch at his bedside.
“I don’t think there will be a rescue. Tasers take down bulls and grown men. She’s a very small girl,” said Thaler, who is helping the family, and asked for privacy in dealing with the events of the past few days.
Nowland has dementia and has lived at home for five years, Thaler said.
“She had good days and bad days, which was constant,” he added, describing her as physically frail.
“This girl can’t stand without a walker. She is not that strong. He weighs around 43 kg and is 1.58 meters tall. It is an outrage,” he added.
This is how the Taser attack took place
Police say they received a report of a resident with a knife at the address around 4:15 a.m. Wednesday. Two officers found Nowland in his bedroom with a knife in his hand, Cotter said during Friday’s briefing.
“It’s fair to say she was armed with that knife. “It was a serrated edge steak knife that she had received in the kitchen area of the nursing home a few hours earlier,” he said.
Police and paramedics negotiated with Nowland for several minutes, coaxing her to drop the knife, but “Claire wouldn’t for any reason,” Cotter said.
“Claire walked up to the door where the police were at the time and the officer, the only officer, fired the Taser,” he said.
Nowland fell to the ground and hit his head.
“Her injury from hitting her head on the floor has left her bedridden at this point,” Cotter said. “She loses consciousness and regains it.”
Video and audio of the incident were captured by two police body cameras, which Cotter said were “compareable to each other.”
“I saw it and I understand what I saw,” Kotter said, adding that the images would not be released because they were “not in the public interest.”
A few questions after the attack
Nowland is a well-known member of the community and attracted local media attention when he went skydiving to celebrate his 80th birthday. He did it again at age 85, according to Thaler.
The officer who fired his Taser was none other than a senior officer with 12 years of experience. Homicide detectives were involved because of the seriousness of the incident, Cotter said.
He did not speculate whether the officer who fired the Taser would be charged.
“When a threshold is reached, it goes from a departmental issue to a criminal issue, and we are certainly mature as an organization and transparent enough to do what needs to be done,” he said.
Cotter said Tasers are typically used as a self-defense tool when someone’s life is threatened.
“It is a device to protect yourself when you believe your life is in danger, or when you believe someone else’s life is in danger, when you are in real fear, in the event of violent confrontation, and when you are threatened with physical incapacitation. We say that. place. , but of course those facts must be real,” he said.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb released a statement on Thursday saying her thoughts are with Nowland’s family.
“I understand and share the community’s concerns and can assure you that we are treating this matter with utmost seriousness,” he said.
Snowy Monaro Regional Council, which operates Yalambee Lodge, declined to comment further due to the investigation, saying the council was “supporting our staff, residents and families at this difficult time”.
The council’s website describes the shelter as a 40-bed senior care facility with private rooms and private bathrooms, staffed by registered nurses, RNs, RNs and caregivers.
Thaler said the community wants to know why the officer thought he would threaten a frail woman with known dementia.
“There is simply no excuse for it. But it happened. We want to know why and how,” he said.