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HomeAustraliaNSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb's jaw-dropping shot at critics over Tasered grandmother

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb’s jaw-dropping shot at critics over Tasered grandmother


NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb’s handling of the Tasering by one of her officers of 95-year-old Clare Nowland at a nursing home in Cooma was met with widespread backlash.

Webb has repeatedly refused to view footage of one of her agents groping a woman three times his age and a third his height, describing calls to do so as “expectations of lounge chair reviewers.”

These are the main points that received criticism for the way the police handled the case.

1. The press release

Commissioner Karen Webb stood by her decision to approve the original police press release which omitted that Clare Nowland had been tasered by an officer.

The initial press release stated that the 95-year-old “suffered injuries while interacting with police at a retirement home in the south of the state, today in a nursing home.”

Webb said in his defense, “Mrs. Nowland has a large family and we didn’t want that family to hear on radio or TV what happened to their mother so we had to be sensitive to that and when we were able to talk about it we have done it’.

She strongly denied that police wanted to cover up the nature of what happened, saying police needed time to talk to family about the “unusual” incident and that she was “absolutely behind” the wording.

2. The body cam

Webb refused repeated calls to view police bodycam footage of the Tasering itself, claiming it would derail the investigation of police officers even though they had yet to be charged.

This is despite her Deputy Commissioner Peter Cotter reviewing the footage, describing it as ‘confrontational’ and detailing what was seen: In a small treatment room, Ms Nowland slowly approached police on a walker, a serrated knife in her hand.

The footage is expected to show 188cm tall, 140kg Senior Constable Kristian White firing his taser into the chest of 157cm tall 43kg Mrs Nowland, causing her to fall to the ground and disturb her head.

When asked why she hadn’t watched footage of the incident that had “shocked the country, shook the world,” Webb said, “Whether I watch the video or not, this investigation is not going to go any faster.”

3. Talk to the officer

Webb claimed she would not move any closer to the case and claimed she did not want to ‘contaminate’ the investigation, distancing herself from one of the NSW Police’s biggest controversies.

“It was about making sure I didn’t interfere with an investigation surrounding the officer,” she said, though the officer was not charged until Clare Nowland died.

The officer is also said to be under mental health supervision since the critical incident.

Asked on Seven’s Sunrise, just hours before Ms Nowland died and Kristian White was charged, if she had spoken to him, Webb admitted that she still hadn’t.

No, he is not currently at work. I’ll probably talk to him at some point,’ she said.

4. Formulation of police statementent

NSW Police took to social media within hours of Clare Nowland’s death, on the evening of May 24, to report her passing.

Again the wording of the message was questionable, stating that Ms Nowland had died ‘peacefully’ and that she was ‘surrounded by family and loved ones who have asked for privacy’.

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