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Clare Nowland.

Australian grandmother with dementia dies of injuries after police tasing

The Australian grandmother tasered by a police officer has died, heightening public outrage.

Clare Nowland, who was 95 years old and suffered from dementia, was tasered May 17 by police in a nursing home after she approached them “very slowly” with the aid of a walker while holding a steak knife. She weighed just 94 pounds.

“With great sadness, the Nowland family share that our beloved Clare passed away this evening – whilst surrounded by the love and support of her family. Our beautiful mum, nana and great-grandmother,” the family said in a statement.

Constable Kristian White was charged with three offenses hours before Nowland died at Cooma Hospital. White is scheduled to appear in court where charges will now likely be upgraded after Nowland’s death. The granny had been in a coma since the incident.

The encounter highlights the excessive use of force across Australia that was brought to attention by the pandemic lockdown. In some instances, beachgoers were violently arrested for sitting alone on deserted beaches or surfing alone. Pundits accused Australia of slipping into a “police state.”

“Negotiations commenced with Clare to essentially drop the knife. For whatever reason, Clare did not do that,” Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter told reporters on May 19. Cotter was soon educated by medical professionals who pointed out that dementia sufferers often do not understand what is being said and that Nowland posed no threat to the officer.

Cotter said Nowland was alone in a room with police when she approached them with the knife in hand “at a slow pace.”

White, who has 12 years of experience, deployed the taser on Nowland causing her to fall, hit her head, and fracture her skull. She has remained in the hospital in critical condition since.

White was charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm.

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NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said there was a possibility that his charges could be upgraded.

“I am confident that this matter is before the court without interference,” she told reporters on May 24.

“This has been traumatic for everyone in the police force,” she said. “This is one incident out of over 2 million calls for assistance we get every year. I’m sure that the community can be reassured that NSW will carry on with the job that we always do.”

NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley offered her condolences to the family of Nowland.

“We will continue to offer support to the Nowland family as they mourn this loss and we urge people to respect their privacy at this time,” she said.

Public and government pressure is growing to force the police to release video captured on the two attending officers’ body cameras.

–Wire services


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