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Tasered woman walked to ambulance before hospital death

Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

A woman who died after being tasered during a long stand-off with NSW police was able to walk to an ambulance before she was rushed to hospital.

Officers were called to a Newcastle apartment complex just after 12.30pm on Thursday following reports a woman was threatening people with an axe.

The 47-year-old also allegedly threatened officers when they arrived, before barricading herself inside a unit.

Specialist tactical officers were called to assist with negotiations before police were able to enter the property several hours later, about 9.45pm.

Police used a Taser, as well as non-lethal "bean bag" rounds, while attempting to arrest the woman.

She was taken to John Hunter Hospital, where she later died.

A crime scene has been established and a critical incident investigation is under way, led by the state's homicide squad.

Assistant Commissioner Peter McKenna said the woman sustained a shoulder injury during the arrest, but was able to take herself to a nearby ambulance.

He said local police tried to negotiate with the woman "for quite some time" before specialist officers, including negotiators, were brought in.

"We certainly don't rush these sorts of things," he told reporters on Friday.

"We don't want to see people get hurt. We want to do it as safely as we possibly can for everyone."

Mr McKenna said the steps police took to disarm the woman and the weapons they deployed would form part of the investigation.

"Her family has been informed and given as much information as possible, and that will continue to occur," he said.

It is the second fatal incident involving NSW police using a Taser in recent months after the death of 95-year-old Clare Nowland at a Cooma nursing home in May.

Greens MP and justice spokeswoman Sue Higginson said reform was needed to change how police used weapons such as Tasers.

"We have got to stop deploying deadly weapons to de-escalate and calm people in these situations," she said.

She wants independent investigations into critical incidents, rather than police investigating police.

Critical incident investigations are triggered in cases where NSW Police officers are involved in incidents that result in a death or serious injury.

Officers not involved in the incident conduct the investigation, which is also subject to oversight from police watchdog the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.

The information is also presented to the state coroner.