The events that led to an elderly grandmother being tasered by police have been revealed as a senior officer dodges questions about what will happen next.
The news that 95-year-old Clare Nowland was tasered after she was found holding a steak knife at an aged care home in Cooma has outraged many across Australia, with questions about whether the police response was warranted due to her age.
Police say that Ms Nowland took the serrated steak knife from the kitchen of the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma early on Wednesday morning.
She was then allegedly found with the knife by staff, who failed to convince her to give it to them, prompting them to contact police at 4.15am, according to NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter.
“The call was along the lines of one of the patients, Clare, having a knife in her possession,” he told reporters on Friday.
Its believed that Ms Nowland had left her bedroom and walked around the nursing home “for a couple of hours” before she was found with the knife.
Paramedics rushed to the scene and arrived before police, finding the elderly woman in a treatment room where they “engaged in conversation” before police officers showed up.
When the officers arrived, Mr Cotter said “she did have a knife in her hand and it is fair to say that she was armed with that knife”.
The attending officers began negotiating with the 95-year-old to try to get her to relinquish the knife.
“For whatever reason, she did not do that,” Mr Cotter said.
“One of the police officers who responded, a senior constable, activated his taser which struck Clare, whereby she fell to the ground, striking her head.”
Mr Cotter said Ms Nowland approached a doorway where officers were standing with the knife before the taser was discharged.
Mr Cotter said she was using the aid of her walker and approaching officers at a “slow pace”.
The negotiations went on for “a number of minutes” before the officer reached for his taser.
Paramedics, nursing staff and the police officers on the scene immediately began treating Ms Nowland for the injuries she suffered in the fall.
She was then rushed by ambulance to hospital where she has remained fighting for life in a critical condition.
“It is equally fair to say that she is in a state of ill health,” Mr Cotter said.
“She is a 95-year-old lady who suffers from some of the general frailties of that age, but the injury that she suffered as a result of hitting her head on the floor has rendered her bedridden at the moment.”
At noon on Wednesday, after she was taken to hospital, police began a critical incident investigation into the incident.
As the event was categorised as a level 1 critical incident, the homicide squad would be carrying out the investigation.
Police will speak to witnesses, Ms Nowland’s family, aged care staff and review police statements in order to determine whether the attending officers upheld professional standards.
The officer who discharged the taser has been stood down from duties.
Mr Cotter declined to comment on whether the officer in question would face charges or what kind of charges that he could face, repeatedly refusing to answer reporters’ questions.
“I understand your question and I thank you for it, but equally thank you for your question about criminal charges, they know where you are going, but in absolute fairness to everyone involved here, I‘m not going to talk about this specific officer and any criminal charges,” he said.
The homicide squad will now be trawling through the bodycam footage of the incident, which Mr Cotter described as “confronting” in order to get to the bottom of it.
The officer in question is now having his “duty status” reviewed by the police force.
Meanwhile, Ms Nowland‘s family remain by her bedside as she fights for life.