Tasered woman's family slam 'disturbing' police actions


A grieving family condemns the "heartbreaking" police response to a woman in mental distress who was stunned by an officer and later died.

But NSW Premier Chris Minns is resisting calls for a parliamentary inquiry, saying the public should have confidence in investigations already under way. 

Krista Kach, 47, died in hospital last week after barricading herself in her Newcastle unit, where police used a stun gun to arrest her.

NSW Police said they were called due to reports a woman was threatening people with an axe, alleging officers were also threatened. 

Several hours later, officers gained access to the unit and deployed a Taser, as well as non-lethal "bean bag" rounds, while attempting to arrest her.

Police said Ms Kach was able to walk to a nearby ambulance and was taken to John Hunter Hospital, but her condition deteriorated and she later died.

The incident is subject to a critical investigation led by the state's homicide squad, which will provide a report to the coroner.

Ms Kach's family disputed police claims she was dangerous, saying she was simply distressed after being told she would be evicted from her unit.

They said police were told she was not well and needed medical help and were assured she would get it.

"What happened on Thursday was a disturbing and heartbreaking response by the police to a vulnerable person that had been told that she would soon be homeless," the family said in a statement.

They added that they found out officers had used a Taser from media reports.

Ms Kach's death is the second fatal incident involving NSW police using a stun gun in recent months: 95-year-old Clare Nowland died after being tasered at a Cooma nursing home in May.

Greens MP and justice spokeswoman Sue Higginson called on the state government to back a parliamentary inquiry into police responses to vulnerable people. 

"The police response (to Ms Kach) was just astounding and unfathomable that they weren't able, within that nine hours, to interpret that there was a woman who just needed some care, security and calming," she said.

Ms Higginson said an inquiry would be an opportunity to uncover the systemic reform needed to ensure such an incident did not happen again.

"Unless we have a good, forensic, deep look into where the system is failing, then we won't know what circumstances police should attend, when they should attend in the company of medical experts and when they should not attend," she said.

Ms Higginson also obtained footage filmed by Ms Kach in the lead-up to police entering her unit, which reportedly includes her referring to the so-called "sovereign citizen" movement and various conspiracy theories.

Mr Minns said his government would not support a parliamentary inquiry but would assess the Greens' proposal.

Issues with recruitment in various essential sectors put more pressure on police and the government was considering how to address the issue, he said.

"Obviously we're looking at it, it's important to the state (because) we're seeing an increased number of call-outs for medical or mental health emergencies.

"But I do have confidence that we've got critical incident teams in place (and) ... the public can have confidence that there's a strong oversight body in place."

The critical investigation will be independently monitored by the NSW Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.

NSW Police Association president Kevin Morton said officers shouldn't be handling serious mental health incidents.

"The mental health crisis team should be the people that are interacting with this, but there's been no funding for NSW Health to achieve this goal and at the moment it just falls fairly and squarely on the lap of police," he said.

NSW Police have been contacted for comment.

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