In a significant turn of events, Senior Constable Kristian White, accused of tasering 95-year-old Clare Nowland, has seen his charges upgraded to manslaughter. The incident, which took place in a Cooma nursing home in May, has stirred considerable attention and raised questions about police conduct and the use of force.
From Taser Incident to Manslaughter Charges
On May 17, Clare Nowland, a dementia patient residing in Yallambee Lodge aged care home, was reportedly found wandering with two kitchen knives. Responding to a distress call from the home, Senior Constable White and a colleague encountered Nowland in an office, holding a knife and a torch. Despite requests to drop the knife, Nowland allegedly raised her hand and pointed the knife at the officers. As the situation escalated, Constable White deployed his taser, causing the 43kg woman to fall backwards, hitting her head heavily on the floor. She was rushed to the hospital but succumbed to an inoperable brain bleed a week later.
Legal Implications and Public Outcry
Originally, Constable White was charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault. However, after receiving advice from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and State Crime Command’s homicide squad, the charges were upgraded to manslaughter. The decision has sparked public concern and fueled debates about police misconduct and use of force, particularly in handling vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and those with mental health issues.
Family's Fight for Justice
While Clare Nowland fought for her life in hospital, her family initiated a civil case against the state of NSW, accusing them of negligence and trespass to a person. They alleged that the force used by Constable White was disproportionately excessive. The family's lawsuit continues, as they seek justice for Clare's tragic and untimely death.
As the case unfolds, it serves as a stark reminder of the need for a proportional and measured response in law enforcement and the necessity of ongoing discussions and policies centered on police conduct.