The 95-year-old great-grandmother who was tasered while holding a walking frame in her nursing home was allegedly holding two knives at the beds of multiple patients before police arrived to de-escalate the situation, alleged facts reveal.
But she was holding only one knife by the time police arrived — and prosecutors will allege the use of a taser was “grossly disproportionate” and an “excessive use of force to the threat posed considering Ms Nowland’s age and disability”.
The new alleged details have come to light in police facts released to the media by the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon. They allege Senior Constable Kristian White tasered Ms Nowland after muttering the words “na, bugger it”.
He had allegedly warned Ms Nowland four times to stop moving on her walker out of a room but she “remained stationary” looking at a female police sergeant with the knife raised, the facts allege.
After reviewing the CCTV footage, NSW Police’s safety arm ultimately concluded the discharge of the weapon “did not meet the threshold for a taser discharge,” the documents state.
Snr. Constable White is accused of deploying his weapon at Clare Nowland on May 17 and faces charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault.
Police earlier alleged they had been called to the Yallambee Lodge aged care facility in Cooma to find Ms Nowland holding a serrated steak knife.
They said staff had been unable to retrieve the knife from her after she picked it up from the kitchen.
They alleged the 43kg dementia patient approached them slowly with a walking frame and refused their requests to drop the knife before the Taser was discharged.
Ms Nowland, who fell backwards and fractured her skull, was hospitalised in a critical condition and died in hospital one week later.
NSW police released a statement following the incident saying only that an elderly woman had been injured in an “interaction” with police at an aged care facility.
The senior cop had been in the police force for 12 years at the time of the incident. He was suspended from active duty with full pay.
No bail conditions were imposed on him at first, but that changed in a detention application at the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Wearing a suit and tie, Snr. Constable White faced the court via audiovisual link as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) successfully applied for three bail conditions to be imposed.
They were to be of good behaviour, appear at court as directed and not go near or contact Ms Nowland’s family or any prosecution witness except through a legal representative.
Justice Robert Beech-Jones accepted those conditions, saying the alleged offences were “undoubtedly serious” but there was “no sufficiently severe risk” Snr. Constable White would not appear at court as directed.
Ms Nowland, who had eight children, 24 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren, had lived at the Yallambee Lodge aged care facility for five years when the incident occurred.
The much-loved adventurer celebrated her 80th birthday by going skydiving.
Separate to the criminal proceedings, Ms Nowland’s family is suing the NSW government over the alleged behaviour of police.
The civil motion is understood to have been filed before Ms Nowland’s death.
Constable White is yet to enter pleas on the criminal charges, which NSW police commissioner Karen Webb said could be upgraded.