A police commissioner has come under fire for a second time after a 95-year-old great-grandmother was tasered by a senior officer at a retirement home.
Clare Nowland, a person with dementia who is 157 cm tall and weighs only 43 kg, was tasered on Wednesday by a senior officer from Yallambee Lodge in Cooma, NSW.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb first sparked outrage on Saturday after claiming it was ‘not necessary’ to view bodycam footage of the incident.
Her response came after questions were raised about police use of force against an elderly woman who needed the help of a walker to get around.
Ms Nowland was ‘armed’ with a steak knife and moved at a ‘slow pace’ before being tasered and left in critical condition.
Commissioner Webb has come under fire for a second time for her comments about police responding to incidents at retirement homes.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb (pictured) said it was ‘rare’ for police to be called to a nursing home after a 95-year-old contracted dementia. Clare Nowland was tasered on Wednesday
But aged care expert and consultant Paul Sadler (pictured) questioned Commissioner Webb’s comments, claiming it was ‘more common than the police commissioner may have known’
At a press conference on Saturday, Commissioner Webb said it is not common practice for police to go to a nursing home to assist staff with their residents.
“In my experience, it’s quite rare that we get called into a nursing home,” Commissioner Webb said.
“It’s not something we come across on a regular basis.”
Her claims have been quashed by an expert and senior care adviser, who said it was ‘standard protocol’ for staff to call the police if an assault was reported.
Paul Sadler, former general manager of the Aged and Community Care Providers Association, appeared to question the commissioner’s claims.
“It’s more common than the police commissioner may have known,” Sadler told police ABC.
“That’s the usual protocol when there’s a report of assault.”
Police are reviewing body-worn CCTV footage of the “confrontational” incident.
Officers claim Ms Nowland was approaching police ‘at a slow pace’ when she was shot with the Taser by a senior officer with 12 years of experience.
The shock of the taser caused her to fall and hit her head. The great-grandmother is now receiving end-of-life care at Cooma District Hospital, surrounded by her family.
Commissioner Webb provoked anger when she said she had no intention of reviewing body-worn CCTV footage of the incident.
“I don’t really plan to, no,” she told reporters on Saturday.
“I’ve heard what’s carried in the body, and I don’t think it’s necessary for me to actually look at it.” she said.
Andrew Thaler, a spokesman for Ms Nowland’s family, told Daily Mail Australia that Commissioner Webb has an ‘obligation’ to view the footage.
“I don’t accept that she doesn’t have to, the responsibility stops with her,” Mr. Thaler said.
Ms Nowland (pictured), a dementia sufferer, was tasered by the senior constable at 4am on Wednesday as she slowly approached a team of officers ‘armed’ with a steak knife and on a walker at the Yallambee retirement home Lodge near Cooma, in the NSW Snowy Mountains
“She can’t hide, she has to stand up and take responsibility and make sure the community and family get answers.
“The whole situation is so egregious.”
On behalf of the family, he said they wanted the commissioner to review bodycam footage of the incident involving Ms Nowland’s family.
Mr Thayer said it would be difficult to view the footage but better in the company of Commissioner Webb.
On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Thaler revealed that Ms. Nowland’s condition had not changed, but her breathing had become “deeper.”
The incident made headlines around the world and has thrown the spotlight on Cooma, a town an hour south of Canberra with a population of 6,800.
Mr Thaler added that he was in Cooma on Friday and said none of the media outlets he spoke to were aware that Commissioner Webb had traveled there to speak to the family.
“The top agent thinks she can sneak in and out, but we need more,” he said.
“The family wants answers, the friends want answers, the community and the world want answers. I called on the commissioner to come down and she did, but she also has an obligation to the community and the family.’
Police officers were called to the nursing home (pictured) after being told she had a kitchen knife. Ms Nowland was tasered while standing next to her walker
Greens spokesman David Shoebridge has criticized the handling of the incident, saying the bodycam vision should be released if Mrs. Nowland’s family agreed.
“There must be an urgent and public review of this incident by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) which, after consultation with the family, includes the release of the Taser video,” he said.
“Tasers are a potentially lethal weapon and should be treated as such, but all too often when the system sends the police that is what they reach for.
“The structural failure here is sending police to the incident when an emergency mental health team should have been available to de-escalate and treat an elderly woman in distress.”
The officer in question will remain off duty while the investigation is ongoing.
When asked why the officer had resigned, Commissioner Webb declined to provide further details.
“He’s not in the workplace, but I can’t articulate the reasons why he’s not in the workplace,” she told reporters.