The NSW police officer who tasered a 95-year-old woman with dementia could have his charges upgraded after the great-grandmother died from her injuries.
Constable Kristian White was charged with three offences just hours before Clare Nowland died in Cooma Hospital on Wednesday night.
He was suspended with pay after tasering Mrs Nowland at the Yallambee Lodge aged-care facility in Cooma last week when she failed to drop a steak knife.
Mrs Nowland, who weighed just 43kg, clung to life for a week after sustaining critical injuries in the incident, including a fractured skull.
White, 33, is due to face court in July on three charges, including assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.
The most serious of the charges, recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
When asked at a press conference on Wednesday night if the charges might be upgraded, Police Commissioner Karen Webb said that was possible.
She described the tasering as “a nasty incident”, but maintained the police investigation had been carried out properly and without prejudice.
“I am confident that this matter is before the court without interference,” Ms Webb said.
She defended the decision to suspend White with pay, saying people were innocent until proven guilty.
“He’s afforded the same opportunity as any other resident, and his employment will continue to be reviewed, but at the moment he’s still suspended from the workplace,” Ms Webb said.
Premier Chris Minns sent condolences to Mrs Nowland’s children and grandchildren.
“This is a very traumatic event, and would have been particularly sad for that family,” he told reporters on Thursday.
Mr Minns expressed confidence in Ms Webb after the opposition pressured the government to release police body-worn video of the incident.
Opposition MPs used parliamentary privilege on Wednesday to suggest police could be involved in a “cover-up”.
“The opposition should be very careful about what they say in relation to a matter that is now before the courts,” Mr Minns said.
“It’s very important for police to be able to do their job, and the investigation should not be hindered by political interference.”
The 95-year-old died peacefully, surrounded by family and loved ones, NSW Police said in a statement.
“Our thoughts and condolences remain with those who were lucky enough to know, love and be loved by Mrs Nowland during a life she led hallmarked by family, kindness and community,” the statement said.
Police Minister Yasmin Catley also offered her condolences to the Nowland family.
“We will continue to offer support to the Nowland family as they mourn this loss, and we urge people to respect their privacy at this time,” she said.