Sharri Markson calls for NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb to resign over tasering of 95-year-old dementia patient Clare Nowland | Englishheadline


Englishheadline host Sharri Markson has called for NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb to resign over her refusal to condemn the tasering of a 95-year-old dementia patient Clare Nowland.

The great-grandmother is on end of life care at Cooma District Hospital after being tasered twice by NSW Police after she was reportedly found holding a knife and standing at her walking frame, inside her nursing home, last Wednesday.

Speaking on her Monday evening program, Sharri Markson said the situation was both “a story of brutal police treatment” and “about police spin and coverup.”

“The way Clare was treated was abhorrent. Anyone can see that,” Markson said.

“There is no reason why a taser would be used in a situation where an elderly woman is moving slowly with a zimmerframe holding a knife.”

Markson said NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb had refused to condemn the action, describing the situation as “an interaction” rather than a brutal tasering – language mirroring the first NSW police statement about the incident.  

“Karen Webb repeatedly says she wants to stay objective about this case. Objective. That’s why she won’t watch the footage of Clare being brutally tasered, Markson said.

“This is absolutely the wrong approach. There are no circumstances where tasering a frail elderly lady, is on her zimmerframe, who can barely walk, who weighs 43kg, is ever and should ever be acceptable.”

Markson claimed police sources had told her there were 100 other police responses that could have been used instead and the tasering Ms Nowland appears to violate NSW Police’s own rules on the use of tasers.

The following are situations where a Taser should not be used unless exceptional circumstances exist: On an elderly or disabled subject. On a child or subject of particularly small body mass.

“Clare was both elderly at 95 and of small body mass, weighing just 43kg. This clearly goes against police’s own guidelines. It goes against any sense of human decency,” she said.

“We haven’t heard this in any comments from Karen Webb. Instead we’ve heard that the police officer who tasered Clare is being looked after.

“What we need to hear is that the police officer has been sacked – or at the very least stood down while the investigation is underway.”

Markson said Commissioner Webb’s claim that she was waiting for the investigation to explain why Ms Nowland was tasered was “all about PR”.

“This is now an exercise in spin and protecting the police. But there are no answers that can explain this conduct,” Markson said.

Markson, the former investigations editor for The Australian, pointed out this this was not the only time an elderly dementia patient had been mistreated by NSW Police, airing footage of Rachel Grahame, an elderly woman who was “distressed, upset and confused” when police were called to St Basil’s nursing home in October 2020.

Police used two sets of handcuffs Ms Grahame, despite her weighing just 45kg and only having taken a nurses’ badge, lanyard and ID card.  

Markson said that if Commissioner Webb “won’t stand up to this kind of conduct” then “she has to go.”

“Karen Webb needs to understand that tasering a beautiful elderly woman is unethical, it shows no understanding of dementia or how to handle it and doesn’t value human life or our elderly members of society,” Markson said.

“There are no circumstances under which it would be ok to taser a 95-year-old woman who is so frail she can’t walk without a zimmerframe.

“We need police leaders who make it clear – and strongly clear – that this conduct isn’t acceptable.

“We need police leaders who understand the values and standards that society expects from police.

“If she can’t understand that – If she can’t stand up and say this is unacceptable – Then she shouldn’t be the police commissioner.”

‘What circumstances?’: NSW Police commissioner questioned after elderly woman tasered
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