Elderly Australian Taser Victim Passes Away

    Elderly Australian Taser Victim Passes Away
    Last updated May 24, 2023
    Image credit: Unsplash


    • Clare Nowland, the 95-year-old woman who last week was tased by police at her Australian care home, has died. Police said she died “surrounded by family and loved ones.”[1]
    • Kristian White, a senior police officer, has been suspended with pay and charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault over the tasing. His court date is set for July 5, but his charges may change since Nowland died.[2]
    • According to New South Wales (NSW) police guidelines, officers are only permitted to use a Taser on an elderly or disabled person in “exceptional circumstances.”[3]
    • Nowland, a resident at a care home in Cooma, suffered from dementia and was carrying a steak knife in the early morning hours (local time) last Wednesday. After staff and officers were unable to de-escalate the situation, Nowland was tased after approaching the officers, causing her to fall and suffer a serious brain bleed.[4]
    • NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter said Nowland was moving toward the officers "at a slow pace" and was using a walker, but he wouldn’t comment on the potential of excessive force being used.[5]


    Narrative A

    This case proves that police can no longer be the first-line option for those suffering from mental health crises. Government inquiries have found that those suffering from mental illness are too often criminalized, even in non-violent incidents, and this very sad encounter falls into that tragic category. Hopefully, this tragedy spurs action on a new and more humane path for dealing with mental health crises.

    Narrative B

    This incident and its aftermath have been traumatic for other officers, who work extremely hard to maintain the respect and trust of the people they serve. This call went wrong, but it was one of 2M made each year by officers who put themselves in danger and are overwhelmingly able to defuse most situations.

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