Australia charges policeman with assault over tasering 95-year-old woman

An Australian policeman was charged with three counts of assault Wednesday over the tasering of a 95-year-old great-grandmother with dementia inside her nursing home.

The 33-year-old senior constable was charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault, New South Wales state police said in a statement.

The officer, who has been suspended with pay, will face court on July 5.

The woman, Clare Nowland, has been in critical condition in hospital since being shot with an electronic stun gun on May 17 in a confrontation that shocked Australians and made international headlines.

Police Commissioner Karen Webb said Nowland’s family had been informed of the “serious charges,” and thanked detectives for working quickly following the “nasty incident.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs Nowland and her family this evening,” Webb told reporters in Sydney.

Officers had been called to Yallambee Lodge nursing home in southern New South Wales by staff who told them that 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.

Some politicians are calling for a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry and the release of police bodycam video of the confrontation.

“The tasering of Ms Nowland has sparked a community outrage that shows how desperately we need police reform,” state Greens MP Sue Higginson said this week.

“The refusal to release the bodycam footage protects NSW Police from public scrutiny for all the wrong reasons — the NSW community has a right to know exactly what happened when Clare Nowland was tasered so we can start to take the steps needed for change.”

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