The distraught family of a 95-year-old woman tasered by police have maintained a bedside vigil as she sees out her final days, her priest has said.
Officers were called to Yallambee Lodge aged care home in Cooma, in southern New South Wales, about 4.15am on Wednesday after resident Clare Nowland, who has dementia, was found by staff holding a steak knife.
After officers failed to get her to drop the knife, an experienced officer with 12 years in the force discharged a taser, causing Ms Nowland to fall and hit her head.
Clare Nowland was allegedly tasered by police at an aged care home in Cooma. Picture: ABC News
End of life care
Ms Nowland is now receiving end of life care at Cooma Hospital after the frail, 43kg woman, fell backwards and hit her head, causing critical injuries.
The tragic update was shared by Father Mark Croker in hospital on Sunday who said mass at her bedside.
Ms Nowland was a keen churchgoer.
“She looks peaceful, she’s not conscious but she certainly looks comfortable,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
He added the mum-of-eight was only in the early stages of dementia.
“They are a big family, so they’re coming in and out … but they’re speaking to Clare, they say the last of your senses to go is your hearing, so we know she can hear us,” he said.
“The thing with Clare is the dementia hadn’t completely taken hold, you could still have a conversation with her … she might get a bit confused, but that’s an age thing”.
Fr Thaler had last spoken to Ms Nowland when she was in hospital for a minor illness a week ago.
“We had a very good conversation, her daughter was there too … she had her knitting with her which was her thing in later life, she was in very good form,” he said.
A family friend and community advocate Andrew Thaler said Ms Nowland’s extended family, which includes eight children, 24 grandchildren and 31 great grandchildren with another four on the way later this year, were distraught by the level of force used on the elderly woman.
“They want answers, as does the community … but they are scared because they’ve been told not to talk publicly,” Mr Thaler said.
“This is possibly the oldest person on the planet to be tasered, there really are no words for this.”
She was in the early stages of dementia. Picture: ABC News
Meanwhile, the incident was captured on body camera footage but NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said the force had no intention of releasing it.
The bodycam footage of the incident has been described as “confronting” and will not be released to the public.
Ms Webb said bodycam video is subject to legislative requirements and is not routinely released.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb APM pictured talking to the media as the critical incident investigation continues into the incident involving a 95-year-old woman in Cooma. Picture: NewsWire/ Monique Harmer
The footage will be reviewed as part of the investigation, which is now under the care of a critical incident team and homicide squad detectives from Sydney.
The officer at the centre of the investigation is “not on office duties” while the investigation is underway,
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Federal Minister for Aged Care Annika Wells has confirmed that she has sought out information from the aged care home provider and a separate investigation has been opened by the Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission.
“The incident at Yallambee Lodge in Cooma has been deeply distressing and my thoughts are with Clare Nowland, her family and all those impacted,” Ms Wells posted to her Facebook page on Saturday morning.