Clare Nowland, the great-grandmother allegedly tasered by police at her Cooma nursing home has passed away.
According to a statement released by NSW Police, Nowland, 95, died “peacefully” on Wednesday night in Cooma Base Hospital surrounded by her family and loved ones.
Nowland, who had dementia, was rushed to hospital for a suspected fractured skull and “brain bleed” after local police allegedly tased her.
It is understood that Senior Constable Kristian White, 33, allegedly tased Nowland to disarm her after she was found wandering around her aged care residence holding a steak knife.
White has since been taken off duty with pay and is scheduled to appear in court on July 5.
He has been charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault, which could see White face a maximum of 10 years in prison.
NSW Police Commissioner, Karen Webb, has confirmed that Nowland’s family has been notified of the charges relating to what she calls a “nasty incident”.
“The Nowland family have been informed of this development and our prayers and thoughts are with Mrs Nowland,” she said.
Webb, who refuses to release the bodycam footage from the night of the incident, said the situation “has been traumatic for everyone in the police force” and has thanked the detectives who “worked around the clock” to investigate the event.
She also added that it is possible that the charges against White could be upgraded, but that he is innocent until proven guilty.
“In NSW you’re innocent until proven guilty, [and] he is afforded the same as any other resident,” she said.
“It is possible [the charges could be upgraded], it depends on what happens.”
As more information regarding their conduct emerges, advocacy groups have voiced their outrage at how the incident was managed.
“It’s just becoming more and more alarming, the more we are told,” Nicole Lee, President of People with Disability Australia, said.
“It’s pretty clear that the response, in this case, is too heavy-handed and completely inappropriate and not warranted in relation to the situation that they were faced with.”
Lee said the incident is a clear indicator that police are not properly trained to handle situations where someone is experiencing a mental health crisis.
“It really does highlight the fact that police are coming into scenarios like this and clearly they don’t have enough training behind them or support behind them to de-escalate a situation for someone who is in a mental health crisis or is experiencing confuse or distress, including due to dementia,” she said.