NSW police tape

Family of woman who died after being Tasered say NSW police had assured them she’d be cared for

‘The only person in danger when the police broke into our mother’s home was our mother,’ family of Krista Kach say after she was Tasered and shot with bean bag rounds in Newcastle

The family of a woman who died after being shot with a Taser and bean bag rounds in Newcastle last week say New South Wales police had previously “assured” them she would be looked after by medical professionals.

Krista Kach, 47, died in John Hunter hospital on Thursday night after officers forced their way into her apartment after a nine-hour standoff. Police claim Kach had earlier threatened officers with an axe.

“We told the police in no uncertain terms that she was not well that day and she needed medical help,” her family said in a statement on Monday.

“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 NSW Greens MP Sue Higginson has been in contact with Kach’s children. She said one of her daughters asked police to let her speak to her mother before officers forced their way into the apartment – but the request was denied.

“We know that’s how we get people to feel calm. We know that’s how we walk people through episodes – we do it with love and care and safety,” Higginson said on Monday.

Higginson said Kach’s daughter believed if she had been able to talk to her mother without the “heavily weaponised riot squad” she likely could have de-escalated the situation.

The family believed medical or mental health experts would attend the scene but say they didn’t – even though Kach was likely experiencing some form of psychosis.

The police assistant commissioner Peter McKenna said on Friday that he couldn’t comment on whether police brought in the woman’s family while they were trying to negotiate – or whether she was experiencing mental health issues.

Kach’s family said what happened to their mother was “a disturbing and heartbreaking response by the police to a vulnerable person who had been told that she would soon be homeless”.

NSW police said they were responding to reports that Kach was threatening people with a weapon.

Police said Kach barricaded herself inside the Stockton apartment and she was shot with the “less than lethal options” of a Taser and impact munitions after tactical officers forced their way inside at about 9.45pm on Thursday.

Kach’s family on Monday called for an independent investigation into her death.

“When the police informed our family that our mother had died they did not disclose how. It was only when we heard on the radio we learned that the police had discharged weapons on her.”

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The police force had assured them that they would look after their mother and that she would be cared for by “qualified medical professionals”.

“She had experienced some mental distress in her life because her life was quite tough, but she was well connected with her own health and her family were advocating for her wellbeing with the police prior to the shooting incident,” the family said.

NSW police are investigating Kach’s death internally. It will be overseen by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission. NSW police were contacted for comment.

The NSW Greens are pushing for a parliamentary inquiry into police responses to vulnerable people. Kach’s death was the latest in a string of fatal interactions.

Police shot and killed a man in Glebe in July. Police said the 43-year-old was armed with a large knife, had been self-harming and was shot after a Taser failed to operate.

Clare Nowland, 95, died in hospital in May after she was allegedly Tasered by Sen Const Kristian White after she was found in Yallambee Lodge nursing home in Cooma, NSW, while carrying a knife.

Prosecutors allege the officer’s actions were “grossly disproportionate” and “excessive” given the great-grandmother’s age and ability, according to court documents.

Also in May, police fatally shot Steve Pampalian, 41, in North Willoughby. Police said they were called following reports a man had threatened neighbours with knives. They didn’t have their body-worn cameras turned on.

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SC: Guardian

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