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95-year-old woman dies after being tasered in her Australian nursing home

<i>Courtesy Andrew Thaler</i><br/>Clare Nowland
Courtesy Andrew Thaler
Clare Nowland

By Hilary Whiteman, CNN

Brisbane, Australia (CNN) — A 95-year-old woman who was tasered by police in her Australian nursing home last week has died, police in New South Wales said Wednesday.

Clare Nowland, a great-grandmother, had been in critical condition in hospital with serious head injuries sustained when she fell to the floor after being tasered.

On Facebook, police said, “Mrs Nowland passed away peacefully in hospital just after 7pm this evening, surrounded by family and loved ones who have requested privacy during this sad and difficult time.”

An officer who allegedly tasered Nowland has been charged with multiple offenses including recklessly causing grievous bodily harm and assault.

New South Wales (NSW) Police Commissioner Karen Webb announced the charges against the unidentified 33-year-old senior constable Wednesday.

Last week, NSW Police Force Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter told reporters that police were called to Nowland’s care home in the town of Cooma, New South Wales, around 4:15 a.m. to reports of a resident with a knife.

“At the time she was tasered, she was approaching police. It is fair to say at a slow pace. She had a walking frame. But she had a knife,” Cotter told reporters on Friday.

Video of the incident was captured by two police body cameras but the footage hasn’t been publicly released.

NSW police guidelines say that tasers should only used on elderly or disabled people in “exceptional circumstances.”

Family friend Andrew Thaler said before the incident Nowland was frail and unable to stand unaided. She weighed just 43 kilograms (95 pounds) and was 5-foot-2 (1.58 meters) tall and was suffering dementia.

Outpouring of support

After charges were laid, he questioned why it had taken police so long to act.

“Why has it taken so long? Anyone else would have been charged straight away,” Thaler said.

Earlier this week, Nowland’s family released a statement asking for privacy, and thanking people for their support.

“Clare is the loving and gentle natured matriarch of the Nowland family,” said the statement according to CNN affiliate 9 News.

“This is a most worrying and distressing time for our family and we are united in our support for Clare and for each other.

“We stand together. We thank everyone here in Cooma, the wider region and, in fact, the whole country and around the world for the outpouring of support for her and her ongoing battle with dementia – which touches so many.”

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