A shocking incident at the Yallambee Lodge aged care home in Cooma, New South Wales has sparked outrage and raised questions about police conduct. Clare Nowland, a frail 95-year-old dementia patient, was allegedly tasered by police officers after being found holding a steak knife. Tragically, Ms. Nowland passed away after hitting her head during the incident.
The controversy surrounding the incident intensified when a police boss provided a perplexing explanation for the initial failure to disclose the use of a taser. The first press release only referred to an “incident” between the elderly resident and officers, omitting any mention of the taser.
During an on-air interview with 2GB’s Ben Fordham, NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb justified the decision, claiming they wanted to ensure the family was informed before releasing details to the media. Fordham pressed Commissioner Webb, questioning whether the omission was intended to protect the police or hide potentially embarrassing information.
The commissioner reiterated that her aim was to prioritize the family’s awareness, but Fordham criticized her refusal to watch the body camera footage and emphasized the importance of transparency and accountability.
Currently, a critical incident team and homicide squad detectives from Sydney are investigating the matter. The officer involved has been relieved of office duties pending the outcome of the investigation.
Father Mark Croker, who conducted a bedside mass for Ms. Nowland, shared the heartbreaking news of her deteriorating condition. Despite her conscious state being diminished, her family maintains a vigil, believing she can hear their voices.
The incident has ignited public concern, with community advocate Andrew Thaler expressing the distress and fear felt by Ms. Nowland’s extended family. They are seeking answers and justice while navigating restrictions on public statements.
Although body camera footage capturing the incident exists, Commissioner Webb has stated that it will not be released to the public, citing legislative requirements. The footage will, however, be reviewed as part of the investigation.
Federal Minister for Aged Care Annika Wells has addressed the incident, expressing deep distress and announcing a separate investigation by the Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission, along with seeking information from the aged care home provider.
As the investigation unfolds, public scrutiny surrounding the use of force on a vulnerable elderly woman continues to grow. The tragic and contentious incident has raised important questions about police accountability and the treatment of elderly individuals in care.