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Australian police hold fire on charging officer who tasered 95-yr-old grandmother

SYDNEY (Reuters) - An internal investigation was underway over an Australian police officer who tasered a 95-year-old grandmother, leaving her in a critical condition, and it was too early to say whether charges would be laid, New South Wales police chief said on Saturday.

Clare Nowland remains in hospital after being tasered by police at the Yallambee aged care home in Cooma, about 300 km (186 miles) southwest of Sydney, on Wednesday.

Police have said Nowland, who suffers from dementia, had wandered the facility for several hours and taken a steak knife from the kitchen.

The incident has sparked public uproar in Australia and calls for a review of police use of tasers on vulnerable people.

Addressing media in Sydney, Webb said police had not decided if the officer responsible would be charged over the tasering.

"It's too early to speculate, we'll deal with those things as they become known to us," NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said, speaking publicly for the first time since the incident.

Asked if the officer had been stood down from active duty, Webb said: "he's not in the workplace but I can't articulate the reasons that he's not in the workplace".

The police commissioner said she had not seen body camera footage of the encounter and reiterated that police did not intend to release it to the public.

Police say officers spoke with Nowland for several minutes but when she failed to drop the knife and approached them, one fired a taser, knocking her to the ground.

Webb said Nowland, a great grandmother and keen golfer, was currently in a stable condition in hospital.

"The next few days will be critical and it's likely to be very difficult for the family," she said.

(Reporting by Sam McKeith; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)