Great-grandmother Clare Nowland dies, police officer charged

Officer who tasered Clare Nowland stood down

Clare Nowland’s family is mourning after the great-grandmother, who was allegedly tasered by a police officer, died late on Wednesday.

The 95-year-old had been in hospital on end-of-life care since the distressing incident in her nursing home in Cooma, NSW, a week ago.

She died not long after Senior Constable Kristian White was formally charged over the incident late Wednesday.

Senior Constable White, 33, will face court on three charges, including assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault.

The most serious of the charges – recklessly causing grievous bodily harm – carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Mrs Nowland was using a walking frame when she was allegedly tasered after failing to drop a steak knife.

The dementia patient, who weighed just 43 kilograms, sustained critical injuries, including a fractured skull.

“Mrs Nowland passed away peacefully in hospital just after 7pm this evening, surrounded by family and loved ones who have requested privacy during this sad and difficult time,” NSW Police said in a statement.

“Our thoughts and condolences remain with those who were lucky enough to know, love, and be loved by Mrs Nowland during a life she led hallmarked by family, kindness and community.”

Police Minister Yasmin Catley also issued a statement on behalf of the NSW government.

“I would like to express my sincere condolences to the Nowland family for the loss of their dearly loved mother, grandmother and great grandmother,” Ms Catley said.

“Our sympathies and thoughts are also extended to the community of Cooma, Mrs Nowland’s friends, as well as the residents and carers at Cooma Yallambee Lodge.

“We will continue to offer support to the Nowland family as they mourn this loss and we urge people to respect their privacy at this time.”

Asked on Wednesday night if the charges might be upgraded, Police Commissioner Karen Webb said it was possible.

She described the tasering as “a nasty incident” but maintained the investigation led by the homicide squad had been carried out properly and without being prejudiced.

“I am confident that this matter is before the court without interference,” Ms Webb said.

She defended the decision to suspend Senior Constable White with pay, saying people were innocent until proven guilty.

“He’s afforded the same opportunity as any other resident and his employment will continue to be reviewed. But at the moment he’s still suspended from the workplace,” she said.

Ms Webb has been under pressure over her handling of the incident after saying she would not watch the body-cam footage until all the evidence for the investigation was gathered.

Earlier in parliament, senior Liberal MP Damien Tudehope called on the government to release vision captured on the two attending officers’ body cameras, saying Mrs Nowland’s treatment was of grave concern.

The motion passed. However, references to body-worn vision were removed, making the result largely symbolic.

The government opposed the motion. Treasurer Daniel Mookhey later said “no one should be should be politicising what has proven to be very difficult circumstances for all involved”.

Senior Constable White is due to appear at Cooma Local Court on July 5.

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