More details in the case of Clare Nowland, who died after allegedly being tasered by a police officer in a Cooma nursing home, have been revealed in documents that have just been tendered to the courts.
Senior Constable Kristian James White was charged after he allegedly tasered the great-grandmother. The documents were released to the media after he appeared in the NSW Supreme Court for a bail hearing this week.
Around 3 am on 17 May 2023, the 95-year-old dementia patient was seen using her four-wheeled mobility walker to move through Yallambee Lodge while carrying two kitchen knives, the documents claim.
A nurse allegedly asked her for the knives, but she told her no. She allegedly carried them into three residents’ rooms and threw one of them at staff members, but missed.
Staff had been trying to speak to her, but ended up calling Triple Zero for paramedics at about 4 am. As information was provided suggesting a person at the lodge had a knife, a decision was made for police officers to attend as well.
Senior Constable White was one of the two officers recalled to duty to attend the scene, arriving with a taser.
Meanwhile, staff had locked Ms Nowland in one of the resident’s rooms, but when paramedics arrived to see her, it was discovered that she had gone out through a back door and so a search began to find her.
She was discovered in a room about 5 am, sitting in a chair and holding a knife and a torch. She was asked to drop the knife, but put the torch down instead.
The documents allege that she started “making a slow attempt to get up” to stand with her mobility walker, knife in hand.
She then walked “very slowly” to the doorway, allegedly raising the knife towards her chest, then pointing it towards the second officer.
“Clare, stop now, see this, this is a taser, drop it now, drop it, this is your first warning,” Senior Constable White allegedly told her.
She kept moving forwards and he allegedly turned on the audio and visual warning display on his taser and told her: “See, you are going to get tased”.
It is alleged when the second police officer tried to block Ms Nowland’s mobility walker, she stopped and pointed the knife towards the officer.
“Stop just… nah bugger it,” Senior Constable White allegedly said, before allegedly deploying his taser at her from about two metres away.
The taser’s probes struck her in the chest and she fell backwards, hitting her head “heavily” on the wooden floor, the documents allege.
The police officers and paramedics rushed forwards and provided first aid, but she died a week later.
“The prosecution will allege that the accused’s actions were a grossly disproportionate response and excessive use of force to the threat posed considering Ms Clare Nowland’s age and ability,” the documents say.
Senior Constable White, who has been a police officer for 12 years, has been charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm and assault over the alleged incident and has been suspended from the police force with pay.
The 33-year-old did not appear in person when the case against him was first heard in the Cooma Local Court this month and it has been adjourned to 6 September.
Meanwhile, a civil matter has been filed under Ms Nowland’s name against the state of NSW. It will be back in court on 24 August.