Update: Officer who tasered 95-year old woman suspended

Clare Nowland

The police officer who Tasered a 95-year-old woman at an Australian care home has been suspended from duty.

Clare Nowland was critically injured when police responded to reports she was wandering her care home with a knife around 4am on Wednesday.

Amid public outcry, critics have called the response by police and care home staff disproportionate. An investigation into the incident continues, as Ms Nowland receives “end of life care” in hospital.

In a statement on Tuesday, New South Wales (NSW) Police said the 33-year-old senior constable who Tasered Ms Nowland has been stood down, with pay.

Police say Ms Nowland was “armed” with a steak knife at the care home – which is in the town of Cooma about 114km (71 miles) south of Canberra – and the officer discharged his weapon after she began approaching “at a slow pace”.

“She had a walking frame. But she had a knife,” Assistant Police Commissioner Peter Cotter told media on Friday.

Ms Nowland is believed to have suffered a fractured skull and a serious brain bleed after falling and hitting her head during the incident.

Community groups, including the NSW Council for Civil Liberties and People with Disability Australia (PwD), have strongly criticised the response, and called for better de-escalation training.

In a statement on Monday, Ms Nowland’s family added that they were grateful for the outpouring of support from around the world, but appealed for privacy amid a “worrying and distressing time”.

“Well respected, much loved and a giving member of her local community, Clare is the loving and gentle-natured matriarch of the Nowland family,” the statement said.

Investigations into the response by police and care home staff are under way, with the homicide squad involved.

“No officer, not one of us, is above the law,” Mr Cotter said. “All our actions will be scrutinised robustly from a criminal perspective as well.”


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