Family sues over police officer's fatal tasering of great-grandmother
Sydney — Lawyers for the family of a 95-year-old great-grandmother who died after being tasered by Australian police said Tuesday they are suing the state government. Clare Nowland, who suffered from dementia, died on May 24, a week after a state police officer shot her with an electronic stun gun at her nursing home in southern New South Wales.
"A civil claim has been brought," the family's lawyer, Sam Tierney, told AFP.
The suit against the New South Wales government seeks damages on behalf of Clare Nowland's estate for alleged battery and assault, he said.
"The family doesn't want to make any comment at this time given the ongoing criminal process," Tierney added.
A 33-year-old senior police constable has been charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault over the incident.
He is due in court on September 6.
Officers had been called to the Yallambee Lodge nursing home in southern New South Wales by staff who told them a woman was "armed with a knife."
Police say they urged Nowland to drop a serrated steak knife before she moved towards them "at a slow pace" with her walking frame, prompting one officer to fire his taser at her.
Local businessman and community advocate Andrew Thaler, speaking not long after the incident to Australian television, said Nowland was "about 5-foot-2 and weighs all of 43 kilos [about 95 pounds], she can't walk on her own without walking assistance."
"The use of a taser when a kind word was all she needed, if she was confused — which is what happens with people who have dementia — she needed kind words and assistance and help," Thaler said. "She didn't need the force of the law, as it were."
A pre-trial conference for the civil case has been scheduled for August 24 at Bega District Court, court documents showed.