A 95-year-old great-grandmother who was tasered at a nursing home approached police with a steak knife over her head.
Body-worn video footage shows demented Clare Nowland walking slowly with her eyes on the officer before being tasered and falling backwards. Sunday Telegraph reported.
It has also emerged that Ms Nowland had gone missing an hour before the incident on Wednesday morning at Cooma’s Yallambee Lodge in the South East Highlands of NSW.
The shock caused Ms. Nowland, who is 157 cm tall and weighs only 43 kg, to fall and hit her head.
She is now receiving end-of-life care at Cooma District Hospital, surrounded by her family.
Body-worn video shows demented Clare Nowland (pictured) walking slowly with her eyes on the officer before she was tasered and fell backwards
Care home staff were unable to find Ms Nowland in the early hours of the morning after she strayed from her bedroom.
She was eventually discovered with a serrated steak knife and police were called to assist at 4:15 am.
A police officer with 12 years on the force told her several times to stay where she was and that he had a taser, video shows.
When Mrs. Nowland failed to drop the knife, the officer fired his taser at her. NSW Police did not say what other options the officer may have had.
The officer is currently off duty, but police would not say whether he has formally resigned.
Detectives from the State Homicide Squad and Law Enforcement Conduct Commission are investigating what happened and whether the forced use was appropriate.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb would not comment on the possibility of charges being brought.
“The best detectives in NSW are on this case,” she said. “I have every confidence that it will be handled properly.”
It is revealed that Ms Nowland was missing an hour before the tragedy happened at Yallambee Lodge (pictured) in Cooma in southern NSW
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,” she said. “It’s not something we come across on a regular basis.”
Her claims were criticized by an aged care expert and consultant, who said calling the police was ‘standard protocol’ for staff 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,” he told the ABC. “That’s the usual protocol when there’s a report of assault.”
The commissioner said the circumstances surrounding the police being called to the nursing home are under investigation.
“If we discover during this research that we need to better equip our officers to deal with dementia patients, we will do that.”
Commissioner Webb – whose own mother suffers from dementia and lives in a nursing home – also sparked anger when she said she had no intention of viewing body-worn CCTV footage of the incident.
“I don’t really plan to, no,” she told reporters. “I’ve heard what’s carried in the body, and I don’t think it’s necessary for me to actually look at it.”
Andrew Thaler, a spokesperson for Ms Nowland’s family, told Daily Mail Australia the commissioner has an ‘obligation’ to review the footage.
“I don’t accept that she doesn’t have to, the responsibility stops with her,” he said.
“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 blatant.”
On behalf of the family, he said they wanted the commissioner to review bodycam footage of the incident involving Ms Nowland’s family.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb (pictured) sparked outrage after she claimed there was ‘no need’ to view bodycam footage of the incident
Mr Thayer said it would be difficult to view the footage but better in the company of Commissioner Webb.
He added that he was in Cooma on Friday and said none of the media he spoke to knew the commissioner 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 for the commissioner to come down and she did, but she also has an obligation to the community and the family.”
Commissioner Webb said the bodycam footage would not be released publicly.
“First, I’m not sure why they’d want to see it. Body-worn video is subject to legal requirements around the Surveillance Devices Act…
“So it’s not a routine and we don’t plan to release it unless there’s a process at the end of this that allows it to be released,” she said.
The state’s top police officer also provided some background on Ms. Nowland.
“She has given birth to eight children, she has 24 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren and four more are expected this year,” she said.
“She is an avid golfer and very community oriented, and cared deeply about her community.”
Mrs. Nowland was prayed for at her local Catholic church service on Sunday morning.
She was involved with St. Patrick’s Catholic Church before moving to Yallambee Lodge five years ago.
Aged care expert and adviser Paul Sadler (pictured) casts doubt on Commissioner Webb’s comments about police being called into care homes
“For a lady in her last years, she was still happy to see visitors and her faith was dear to her,” Father Mark Croker told the ABC.
He said she was “very lively” and the church magazine was always brought to her in the nursing home.
“She was aware of who was sick and who was doing whatever. She was also known, as one of her last habits, to be an avid knitter.’
The Snowy Monaro Regional Council, which manages the care home, said a report on the incident had been filed with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.