The family of Krista Kach, a 47-year-old woman who tragically lost her life after being Tasered and bean bagged by police on Sept. 14, has issued a statement regarding the incident.
On Sept. 18, the family described the police’s reaction as “troubling and deeply saddening” following the news that Ms. Kach was on the verge of becoming homeless.
Her family said they had communicated to the police that she was in an unwell condition that day and urgently required medical assistance.
“Our mother was not a dangerous person, she has lived through difficult circumstances but she was a loving and capable person who cared for people and her family. The only person in danger when the police broke into our mother’s home and the many hours leading up to that moment was our mother,” the statement said.
Instead, a heavily armed riot squad attended the scene, and a request by Ms. Kach’s daughter to speak to her mother to help de-escalate the situation was denied by officers.
The incident began around 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 14 in Stockton, a suburb of Newcastle in New South Wales (NSW), when law enforcement responded to a call about a woman wielding an axe and making threats against others at a unit complex.
The 47-year-old woman allegedly threatened officers and barricaded herself inside. Specialised tactical officers and negotiators gained entry at 9:45 p.m.
According to Assistant Commissioner Peter McKenna, tactical police used a bean bag round causing a shoulder injury, followed by a Taser before apprehending her.
Paramedics treated her, but her condition worsened, and she was transferred to John Hunter Hospital, where she unfortunately passed away.
A post-mortem examination is scheduled to determine the cause of death in the coming days.
Government and Police Response to the Incident
NSW Premier Chris Minns admitted problems in recruitment, including at social and mental health service providers, were putting more pressure on police.
Callouts for medical and mental health emergencies are increasing, although Mr. Minns said he had 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 president of the NSW Police Association, Kevin Morton, said officers should not be tasked with managing critical 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.
The 2nd Woman to be Killed After Tasering This Year
This incident follows public outcry surrounding the tasering death of 95-year-old Clare Nowland, who died on May 24.
In the earlier incident, police responded to a call from aged care staff on May 17 to assist Ms. Nowland, who was holding a knife and alone in a room when police officers began negotiating with her.
Ms. Nowland, who suffered from dementia, used a walking frame, and weighed just 43 kilograms (94.7 pounds),
When she approached them with the knife at a slow pace, New South Wales Constable Kristian White, aged 33, deployed his Taser, causing Ms. Nowland to fall and hit her head, sustaining a skull fracture. She later died from her injuries.
Constable White currently faces charges including recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.
Lack of Transparency Over Taser Usage
Currently, there is no public disclosure of Taser usage by law enforcement in any state or territory, except for limited information in the ACT.
In NSW, only one official report on Taser use, dating back to 2012 and issued by the state ombudsman, has been made available to the public.
This report revealed that there were six Taser-related deaths in Australia between 2002 and 2012.
Since this report, there have been several more deaths due to police Tasering incidents.
An analysis of more than 600 Taser incidents that occurred in a six-month period in 2010, that one-third of individuals subjected to police Tasering had suspected mental health issues and three-quarters of these individuals were unarmed.