What police refused to tell you about the Tasering of 95-year-old gran – and every Australian should be furious: Amazing draft document shows how police deleted all key details from initial press release
An early draft NSW Police press release revealed Claire Nowland, 95, was Tasered by an officer had dementia and had a knife.
References to a Taser, a knife and the movements of a 95-year-old have been deleted from the first public statement NSW Police drafted about the fatal stun of the great-grandmother, new documents reveal.
Claire Nowland was Tasered on May 17 when she clashed with police at Kumar Yallambi Lodge walking frame and holding a steak knife. The eight-year-old mother, who had dementia, died in hospital a week later.
A 71-word press release authorized by Police Commissioner Karen Webb was issued 12 hours after Ms Nowland was injured but provided little detail about her ‘interaction with police’.
‘No further details are available at this time,’ it said.
But documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the statement was released after police cut down a lengthy draft that included several key details, including the use of a Taser.
Claire Noland, 95, was crowned by a NSW Police officer. A draft NSW Police Media Unit press release included key details, such as how he was tasered and a knife at the time of his death, but documents obtained by AAP show they have been redacted.
The 171-word draft prepared by the NSW Police media unit outlines how police responded to reports at 4.15am that an elderly care home resident had a knife and found a woman ‘still armed … in a small room’.
‘Police and paramedics tried to talk to the woman; However, all instructions have been ignored,’ it said.
‘When he stood up and walked towards the officers, a constable deployed a Taser.’
The draft noted that the woman was treated by paramedics at the scene and left space to include her latest hospital status.
The released statement omitted both details, noting that his condition was ‘being monitored’ at the hospital.
The officer whose job is being reconsidered has also been removed.
Ms. Nowland remained unidentified in both versions, as per standard police procedure.
Police did not comment publicly on the incident again until multiple media reports surfaced more than 36 hours after the Taser.
At an extraordinary press conference on May 19, Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter detailed how Ms Nowland had a serrated steak knife in a small treatment room as she slowly approached officers and was tasered.
‘He had a walking frame but he had a knife,’ she said.
Ms Webb later defended the decision to omit mention of the Taser in the first press release, which she had overseen.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb admitted to monitoring the initial press release
He told Sydney Radio 2GB on 22 May, ‘It was important to let the family know about the incident before we went public with it.
‘It’s much needed and I’m sure the family now appreciates it.’
He denied that the police were hiding anything, saying the Nowland family deserved to know about the incident through the police, not media reports.
The incident prompted calls for more independent police oversight and the release of police body camera footage.
Federal Aged Care Minister Annika Wells cited Ms Nowland as emphasizing the need for greater understanding and support for people living with dementia.
The officer who fired the stun weapon has been suspended with pay and charged with three felonies, including recklessly causing grievous bodily harm.
Senior Constable Christian White, 33, will appear in a Cooma court on July 5.
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