The police officer accused of shooting great-grandmother Clare Nowland, 95, at a nursing home will face the state’s highest court next week to fight for her freedom.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is due to submit an arrest request for lead constable Kristian White, who has been living freely in the community since he was accused of assaulting Ms Nowland before she died.
The 33-year-old man is accused of discharging his weapon at a dementia patient at a nursing home in Cooma, in the southern part of the state, in the early hours of May 17. She fell backwards and suffered fatal injuries.
Ms Nowland died in hospital on May 24 surrounded by loved ones. She had eight children, 24 grandchildren, and 30 great-grandchildren.
Clare Nowland died in May after she was allegedly tasered at a care home in Cooma, southern New South Wales.
Just hours before his death was announced, Officer White was charged with reckless grievous bodily harm, assault causing actual bodily harm, and common assault.
Police decided not to place any bail restrictions on the police officer, who remains suspended from active duty with full pay.
A DPP spokesperson confirmed that the Supreme Court detainer request would be an opportunity for the state’s attorney to try to impose bail conditions on Officer White.
The Crown will ask that he continue to be allowed to reside in the community as long as he meets the proposed bail conditions, which are not yet known.
The request comes on the heels of a fiery court appearance during which the state’s attorney’s office was heavily criticized for its approach to his bail.
Lead Constable Kristian White is charged with assaulting the 95-year-old man causing catastrophic injuries. Image: 9 News
On 5 July an irate magistrate, Roger Clisdell, strongly criticized the DPP for allowing Constable White to appear in Cooma Local Court via audiovisual link without informing him of the change.
Who runs this court, Miss Stuart? You or I?’ demanded Crown prosecutor Sally Stuart loudly.
He said he was ‘absolutely disgusted’ that the decision had surprised him, which meant that ‘the fool here sitting on the bench just has to put up with it’.
The furious magistrate subsequently dismissed Ms Stuart’s request to place bail restrictions on Constable White that would require him to appear in court.
‘You excused him today, so why should I put him at your disposal and not mine?’ he demanded.
Ms Stuart admitted that the police should have considered placing bail conditions on the police officer when he was charged with the “serious” offences.
Local Cooma Court, where NSW Police Officer Kristian White was due to appear in court in connection with the discharge of a 95-year-old woman. Image: NCA NewsWire/Martin Ollman
Clisdell opined that the Crown’s arrest request was an attempt to placate anyone who might be “upset” by the lack of bail restrictions for the police officer.
His decision not to impose restrictions could be overturned on July 18 in the Supreme Court.
The arrest request is expected to be opposed by Constable White’s lawyer, Warwick Anderson, who previously told the local Cooma court that the bail conditions were unnecessary.
“There is no flight risk,” he said.
He is in no condition to commit any more crimes.
Sam Tierney, the lawyer for Ms Nowland’s family, said they respected the ongoing criminal proceedings against Officer White and did not wish to comment.
Ms Nowland’s family is suing the New South Wales government on her behalf.
Earlier in the week, he said the deadly incident at the nursing home was “a unique set of circumstances.”
“I suspect there is a lot more to this incident,” he told Nine’s Today.
Mr. Tierney represents the family in a civil lawsuit brought against the New South Wales government for the alleged actions of the police.
The procedure was initiated by Ms Nowland’s family on her behalf while she was still fighting for her life in hospital.
The great-grandmother had allegedly been holding a steak knife at around 5am on May 17 when Officer White and a female colleague were called to Yallambee Lodge in Cooma.
Police allege that the 95-year-old woman was using her walker to slowly approach the officers with the knife in hand despite repeated requests for her to drop it.
The incident which led to the death of Ms Nowland sparked protests over the arming of the NSW Police.
The female officer, who is not charged with any crime, reportedly offered to ‘remove’ it.
But Officer White allegedly responded “fuck it” and discharged his Taser into the 90-pound woman’s chest.
The dementia patient fell backwards and hit her head, fracturing her skull.
Footage of the tragic incident captured on a body camera has been described as “confrontational”.
Both NSW Police and a spokesman for NSW Police Minister Yamin Catley said they could not comment on the civil case as it was before the courts.