NSW top cop will not watch tasered grandma bodycam
NSW's top cop says she will not watch confronting video of a 95-year-old grandmother being tasered in a nursing home, as the elderly woman's condition deteriorates in hospital.
Clare Nowland, 95, was using a walking frame when she was hit with a taser at an aged care facility in Cooma in the early hours of Wednesday, after she allegedly failed to drop a steak knife.
The mother of eight is now receiving end-of-life care in Cooma District Hospital, surrounded by her distraught family after being critically injured when she was tasered and fell to the floor.
The incident was captured on body-worn camera by the two officers attending, but NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb told reporters she had not watched the video.
"I don't really intend to, no," Ms Webb said in Sydney on Saturday.
"I've heard what's in the body worn, and I don't see it necessary that I actually view it."
Police would not make the footage public, she said, adding it was protected under the Surveillance Act.
"We don't intend to release it unless there's a process at the end of this that would allow it to be released."
Staff from the Yallambee Lodge nursing home called police after Mrs Nowland, who has dementia and is 43kg, took a serrated steak knife from the kitchen into a small treatment room.
Police and ambulance officers tried to get Mrs Nowland to drop the knife before a senior constable fired his Taser once as she slowly approached them.
She fell and struck her head on the floor.
The critical incident investigation has been elevated to "level one" due to Mrs Nowland suffering an injury that could lead to her death.
Police had been with Mrs Nowland's family since the incident, and they deserved a thorough investigation to take place without speculation, Ms Webb said.
"What we know so far is what happened, what we don't yet know is why it happened," she said.
"Mrs Nowland and her family deserve that this is done properly. This will take time," the commissioner said.
"We need to ensure that the officers involved in this matter are afforded procedural fairness, and that anything that we say (does not) prejudice the investigation."
The investigation would be highly complex and sensitive, requiring detectives to interview all staff and residents from the aged care home.
"That's a delicate and time consuming role that they have, but necessary," she said.
Ms Webb said she had spent time at the Cooma District Hospital with the family on Friday, and the next few days would likely be difficult for the family.
"My condolences and thoughts are with the family at the moment," she said.
Family friend and community advocate Andrew Thaler said Mrs Nowland's condition had worsened as her family remained by her bedside.
"Her breathing has been getting shallower, but she's still with us," he told AAP on Saturday.
The officer who fired the Taser joined the force 12 years ago and has been taken off active duty.
He was being supported by his local command and his welfare was being monitored, Ms Webb said.
Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter, who is leading the investigation, declined to say whether that officer might face criminal charges, saying it would breach procedural fairness.
The assistant commissioner said he had seen the body camera footage and agreed with a family friend it was confronting.
He also declined to release it publicly.