Top cop won’t watch taser footage
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb has said she hasn’t watched bodycam footage of an officer tasering a 95-year-old woman at an aged care home, and doesn’t intend to.
Officers were called to Yallambee Lodge aged care home in Cooma about 4.15am on Wednesday after resident Clare Nowland, who has dementia, was found by staff holding a steak knife.
After officers failed to get her to drop the knife, an experienced officer discharged a taser, causing Ms Nowland to fall and hit her head.
She is now “in and out of consciousness”, with her family by her side in hospital.
The Commissioner said she has not yet seen the body worn camera footage from the officers and she has no intent to ever watch it.
“I don't really intend to [watch it],” she told reporters on Saturday.
“I have heard what it is in the body worn, and I don’t see it necessary that I actually view it.”
The bodycam footage of the incident has been described as “confronting” and will not be released to the public.
Ms Webb said bodycam video is subject to legislative requirements and is not routinely released.
The footage will be reviewed as part of the investigation, which is now under the care of a critical incident team and homicide squad detectives from Sydney.
At the time the taser was fired Ms Nowland was approaching officers, using her walking frame and moving at a “slow pace”, NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter said on Friday.
According to the NSW Police Force’s handbook on taser use, the device should not be used on elderly or disabled people “unless exceptional circumstances exist”.
The officer who discharged the taser has been stood down from duties while the investigation is underway.
The Commissioner was noticeably absent at a press conference on Friday with reporters asking why she had not yet fronted the cameras more than two days after the incident that attracted outrage across the country.
“Assistant commissioner Peter Cotter is in charge of this investigation and he is the designated officer, so it is important for him to talk to the facts that we know so far,” Ms Webb said.
Federal Minister for Aged Care Annika Wells has confirmed has sought out information from the aged care home provider and a separate investigation has been opened by the Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission.
“The incident at Yallambee Lodge in Cooma has been deeply distressing and my thoughts are with Clare Nowland, her family and all those impacted,” Ms Wells posted to her Facebook page on Saturday morning.
A beloved great-grandmother
Claire Nowland has been surrounded at her bedside with members of her large extended family.
She has eight children, 24 grandchildren and 31 great grandchildren with another four on the way later this year.
The Commissioner said it took police a significant period of time to notify family who are spread around NSW and the country.
She spent the day in Cooma on Friday, speaking with Ms Nowland’s family and listening to their concerns.
The great-grandmother has lived a “very rich and full life” and has been described as a caring member of the local community, Ms Webb said.