Police admit 'grossly disproportionate' action after tasering 95-year-old care home resident

Clare Nowland

Clare Nowland

Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 20/07/2023

- 21:12

The pensioner died a week after the taser incident in May

Police have admitted to having acted in a “grossly disproportionate” way after tasering a 95-year-old care home resident.

Clare Nowland died just one week after the incident in May.

Officers in the Australian town of Cooma, around 71 miles away from Canberra, arrived at the scene after she was found holding two knives.

Court documents have alleged police officer Kristian White said “bugger it” before firing as she slowly advancing using a walker.

A street view image outside the care home

A street view image outside the care home

Google Street View

White is yet to enter a plea on either of the grievous bodily harm and assault charges brought against him.

Police were called after Nowland was spotted walking around a corridor in Yallambee Lodge clutching two knives at 3am on May 17.

The dementia patient was asked by a nurse to drop the knives but she replied “no”, police have claimed.

Nowland was later spotted holding the knives in another resident’s room.

Emergency services were called, with the intention of an ambulance coming to sedate her, after care home staff failed to reach Nowland’s family.

The 95-year-old allegedly proceeded to throw a knife at one of her carers.

Nowland started to slowly walk towards police officers and ambulance crew while holding onto the second knife.

White reportedly asked her to drop the weapon and stop moving four times.

He then discharged his taser from around two metres away.

According to the documents, White said: “Clare, stop now, see this, this is a taser, drop it now, drop it, this is your first warning.”

Nowland suffered a fractured skull and serious brain bleeding after falling and hitting her head.

White was suspended from duty without pay pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

An image taken outside Cooma Police Station

An image taken outside Cooma Police Station

Google Street View

Prosecutors claim White used “excessive force” given Nowland’s age and physical condition.

Police procedures indicate a taser “should not be used against an elderly or disabled subject unless exceptional circumstances exist”.

Nowlands family have asked for “privacy and space” following the latest development.

A lawyer representing the family added: “The facts alleged against Mr White are extremely confronting and shocking.”

White, who remains on bail, will appear at court in Cooma again on September 6.

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