Australian authorities have launched a high-profile investigation after a 95-year-old woman great-grandmother with dementia was allegedly tasered at a retirement home by police.
The woman, identified by media as Clare Nowland, was tasered on Wednesday after she was found holding a steak knife at the aged care home in Cooma, about 300km (186 miles) southwest of Sydney.
She is in a critical condition in hospital, fading in and out of consciousness, sparking a public uproar over the incident.
The police were called to the care home after staff found Ms Nowland wandering the facility for several hours and taking the knife from the kitchen.
Two officers spoke with Ms Nowland for several minutes but when she failed to drop the knife and approached them, one fired a taser, knocking her to the ground, according to the police.
"At the time she was tasered, she was approaching police but it is fair to say at a slow pace," New South Wales Police assistant commissioner Peter Cotter said on Friday.
"She had a walking frame, but she had a knife."
The officer, who fired the taser, was taken off duty pending a "level 1 critical incident investigation", a category police reserve for exceptional cases where injuries lead to death or imminent death.
The homicide squad is involved.
"If a threshold is met where it changes from being a departmental issue to being a criminal issue, we are certainly mature and transparent enough as an organisation to do what has to be done," he said.
The incident was recorded on body cameras but it was not in public interest to release the footage because of the ongoing investigation, Mr Cotter added.
Ms Nowland, a mother of eight, celebrated her 80th birthday in 2008 by skydiving in Canberra.
She reportedly lived at the nursing home for more than five years. Her relatives were at her bedside in hospital and had declined to comment, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Mr Cotter refused to comment on whether the officer would face charges.
“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.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies