Kristian White, 33, a police officer in New South Wales, Australia, is accused of tasing a 95-year-old woman suffering from dementia at a care home in Cooma. Clare Nowland "fell backwards and sustained fatal injuries" in the exonerative terminology used by the news story, but that happened while he was tasing her. At an evidently fractious court appearance, Magistrate Roger Clisdell complained that prosecutors had allowed White to appear via video link without the court's permission, but refused to impose bail conditions on White despite the severity of the offense ("You excused him today, so why should I put him at your beck and call, not mine") and it seems everyone is being kept in the dark about what happened anyway. White was charged only with injuring and assaulting his victim.
The sequence of alleged events on May 17 was heavily redacted when it was tendered to the court, "likely for public interest and safety reasons". Mr White and a female colleague were called to Yallambee Lodge aged care home in Cooma about 4.15am on May 17 after staff found Mrs Nowland holding a steak knife.Police allege the mother-of-eight was using her walking frame to slowly approach the officers with the knife in her hand, despite repeated requests for her to drop it. The female officer – who is not accused of any wrongdoing – allegedly offered to "take it off her". But Mr White allegedly replied "bugger it", and discharged his weapon into the chest of the 43kg woman. The grandmother-of-24 fell backwards and hit her head, fracturing her skull. She died in Cooma Hospital a week later surrounded by her loved ones.
The story is hard to parse. It reads like the judge somehow found a way to shield, coddle and cosy the accused officer while posing that as a reaction against the prosecutor shielding, coddling and cosying the accused officer. But trying to figure this out led me to some of Clisdell's other greatest hits, and it seems he just loves being the main character in the cases that come before him. In one of them, Clisdell voided charges against a teacher who struck a 7-year-old child, delivered an "in my day we could beat our kids properly" rant in court, and was ultimately overruled by other judges.
"This is a classic case of the insanity that has overtaken society in the 21st century," Clisdell said.
"So, what do I get in court on a regular basis, I get people from a generation who never experienced discipline at school and never had [a] report saying they'd failed, who never came last in a race, come in here … and say, 'What ya want mate?'
"Is that how we want our society?"
Clisdell continued, talking about his own family and friends' experiences as teachers, police being called "everything under the sun", and Tiller being sacked over the incident.
It seems he often ends up putting on a show and thinks "modern society is going to collapse like the Roman Empire." What are the odds are that Roger Clisdell, described as "inappropriately emotional" by his own superiors, has more in the tank for this case?
Police are also accused of trying to cover up the circumstaces of Nowland's death. The bodycam footage will not be released to the public, and the New South Wales police commissioner went on record to say that she would not watch it.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb says it "takes courage" not to view the body-cam footage of an elderly woman being tasered, and that she wants "a complete picture" of the incident before she looks at it.
"I don't want to look at the evidence I have until I've seen the evidence I haven't" is today's portrait in courage.