A statement issued by NSW Police following the death of great-grandmother Clare Nowland has sparked further criticism towards police from the community, with a single word leaving many distressed.
The 95-year-old died in Cooma Hospital in the state’s south on Wednesday, a week after she was tasered by Senior Constable Kristian White at Yallambee Lodge aged care.
Constable White and a female officer were called to the nursing home after staff found Ms Nowland, who was a dementia patient, in possession of a steak knife.
Clare Nowland was tasered by police at an aged care home in Cooma. Picture: Supplied
The Daily Telegraph later revealed the 33-year-old male officer sparked the taser as a warning to Ms Nowland after the female officer allegedly said she could take the knife off the patient.
In response, Constable White allegedly said “no bugger it” and fired the taser at Ms Nowland who was “slowly” approaching the officers with the aid of her walker.
Ms Nowland fell as a result of the incident and sustained a fractured skull. She was later admitted to hospital in a state of “in and out of consciousness” before receiving end-of-life care surrounded by her family.
As news broke of Mr Nowland’s death, NSW Police released a statement via its Facebook page platforms to confirm she had died.
“It is with great sadness we confirm the passing of 95-year-old Clare Nowland in Cooma tonight (Wednesday, May 24, 2023),” the statement read.
“Mrs Nowland passed away peacefully in hospital just after 7pm this evening, surrounded by family and loved ones who have requested privacy during this sad and difficult time.
“Our thoughts and condolences remain with those who were lucky enough to know, love, and be loved by Mrs Nowland during a life she led hallmarked by family, kindness and community.”
Comments were disabled on the post, but it didn’t stop hundreds of Australians from sharing their outrage over one small detail listed in the statement’s second paragraph.
Several community members were distressed by the description of Ms Nowland’s death, with many arguing the word “peaceful” was out of touch and an incorrect description of the situation.
The realisation led to a stream of comments on Twitter, with some calling on NSW Police’s communications team to rethink their choice of wording.
“Apparently being tasered is equivalent to passing away peacefully according to NSW Police,” one comment read bitterly.
Fifteen years earlier, Ms Nowland celebrated her 80th birthday by jumping out of a plane. Picture: ABC News
“RIP and thoughts are with the family,” another Sydneysider said.
“‘Died peacefully’ is a very big external call. I doubt being confronted by police when clearly in distress, then tasered when you feel vulnerable is at all ‘peaceful’.”
Another Australian labelled the use of the word as “macabre” while another said the description was “absolutely disgusting commentary”.
A Brisbane woman added the force were better off saying “nothing” about Ms Nowland’s death.
“There are times where it’s better to say nothing and when your organisation is (involved, this) is one of them,” she said.
RIP and thoughts are with the family. â€˜Died peacefullyâ€™ is a very big external call. I doubt being confronted by police when clearly in distress, then tapezered when you feel vulnerable is at all â€˜peacefulâ€™ ðŸ˜žðŸ’”â¤ï¸â€ðŸ©¹ https://t.co/lSLGusCfKu
— Helen Kulas (@HelenKKulas) May 25, 2023
Meanwhile a sixth person said: “Incredibly mind-numbing hypocrisy from NSW Police”.
News.com.au contacted NSW Police regarding the matter however due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, it declined to comment.
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Ms Nowland’s family have previously thanked the public for their support and described the ordeal as a “worrying and distressing time”.
In a statement, they praised Ms Nowland as a “well respected, much loved and a giving member of her local community” and the “loving and gentle-natured matriarch of the Nowland family”.