Woman, 95, Tasered by Cops at Nursing Home

Police in Australia say Clare Nowland refused to drop steak knife
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2023 5:03 AM CDT
Aussie Cops Taser Woman, 95
In this image made from video, Clare Nowland is seen following her skydive in Canberra, Australia April 6, 2008.   (Australian Broadcasting Corp. via AP)

A 95-year-old Australian woman with dementia is in critical condition after being tasered by police officers who were called to her nursing home. Police say staff at the home in Cooma, south of Canberra, told them Clare Nowland had taken a steak knife from the kitchen, 9News reports. Police say an officer used a stun gun on the frail woman after she refused to drop the knife and approached officers. "At the time she was tasered, she was approaching police. But it is fair to say at a slow pace," New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter said. "She had a walking frame. But she had a knife."

Rowland is 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 95 pounds, the AP reports. After she was tasered, she fell to the ground and her head hit the floor. Andrew Thaler, a friend of the great-grandmother's family, tells the BBC that she suffered a fractured skull and is not expected to survive. "The family are shocked, they're confused," he says, "and the community is outraged. How can this happen? How do you explain this level of force? It's absurd." Police say the officer involved has 12 years of experience and has been taken off active duty.

Thaler says Rowland is well-known in the community. In 2008, she appeared on TV with a skydive over Canberra to mark her 80th birthday. Nicole Lee, president of the People with Disability Australia advocacy group, says Rowland should have been treated with "compassion and time," not a stun gun. "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," she says. (More Australia stories.)

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