The NSW Police officer who allegedly tasered 95-year-old aged care patient Clare Nowland has been charged.
Senior Constable Kristian White has been charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault.
White, who has 12 years of experience on the force, allegedly tasered Nowland twice at Yallambie Lodge nursing home in Cooma in southern NSW last Wednesday.
The beloved great-grandmother — who suffers from dementia, weighs just 43 kg and is only 5’2″ — was allegedly holding a knife when she shuffled towards police while using a walker. Her family claims she was trying to make toast.
After she was tasered, Nowland fell and fractured her skull. She also had holes burned into her chest from the device. It is unlikely she will survive, and she is now receiving end-of-life care at Cooma Base Hospital.
NSW Police said White will appear at Cooma Local Court on July 5.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb confirmed the officer had been charged at a media conference on Wednesday evening.
“There’s little more that I can say other than that the Nowland family have been informed of this development and our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs Nowland and her family this evening,” she said.
“I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the detectives who worked around the clock on this to get to this point within seven days of that nasty incident involving Mrs Nowland and the serious charges now before the court.”
The incident has caused mass outrage, and police revealed in a statement on Tuesday that White has been suspended with pay while the incident is being investigated.
“Today (Tuesday 23 May 2023) a 33-year-old senior constable attached to Monaro Police District was suspended from duty with pay,” the statement read.
“As investigations continue into the critical incident, further updates will be provided.”
The internal investigation, which is yet to reveal why White tasered the woman, has caused its own controversies after Webb revealed she refuses to watch the bodycam footage from the incident.
The family of a 95-year-old grandmother who was tasered in a NSW nursing home is demanding answers from police. It comes as NSW’s top cop says she will not watch confronting video #NSWPolice #Taser#ClareNowland #bodycam #Commissioner #Cooma pic.twitter.com/hzk9SXDDSz
— Brandi Worlds News (@BrandiSaari) May 20, 2023
“People can’t reconcile the fact that you haven’t looked at this video. They just can’t fathom why you wouldn’t have,” Karl Stefanovic told Webb on Today.
“Do you understand that by not looking at it, this may erode the public’s perception of accountability in the force?”
In reply, Webb said: “As a decision maker, I may watch this video when all the evidence comes before me.
“But, watching that video now won’t make the investigation go faster.
“I need these detectives who are the best in NSW to work through this methodically, follow a process and then I’ll review it as a whole.”
The NSW cop who Tasered Clare Nowland once unlawfully detained a suspect during an encounter in which his partner allegedly threatened to break the man’s legs.
They detained the man in the ACT, acting as “vigilante enforcers” outside their jurisdiction.https://t.co/Ri3a8fnWR7
— Rachel Withers (@rachelrwithers) May 23, 2023
When Stefanovic then asked Webb if there was any other way officers could have handled the confrontation — you know, like de-escalating it and providing mental health assistance to Clare Nowland rather than immediately resorting to violence — she claimed there was no way to know if that could have been the case.
“We don’t know that,” she insisted.
“We don’t know why the aged-care facility called police in the first place.
“Police officers are trained in a number of tactical options to use the least amount of force.
“Until we actually understand why, we won’t really know.”
Okay, but you know what would tell us if the situation could have been handled differently? Yeah, the bodycam footage, which ya won’t bloody watch!
Obviously releasing it to the public wouldn’t be the right thing to do since Nowland’s family have made it clear they don’t want it out there — but the Police Commissioner should surely be checking it out.
The situation unfolding before our eyes is tragic to say the least. We don’t need another cop on paid vacation until their name is inevitably cleared and accountability thwarted — let’s hope we get some justice.