On September 8, 2021, Karen Garner was unaware that her attorney was in the midst of settlement negotiations with the city of Loveland, Colorado regarding a lawsuit filed against the city and five police officers. The 74-year-old suffers from dementia and resides in a nursing home memory care unit.
The fact that the city agreed to settle the case for $3 million did not register with her. The city agreed to the settlement after the lawyer released an internal police report showing that three police supervisors signed off on an officer’s use of force against the elderly woman.
This report contradicts Police Chief Robert Tice’s assertion that no one on the force was aware of the incident’s severity until Garner’s family filed a lawsuit in April 2021. When released by her attorney in April, body camera footage of Garner’s arrest raised a public outcry and sparked an independent city investigation.
The city publicly apologized to Garner and her family. Garner’s daughter said the funds will go toward her mother’s care. Garner was diagnosed with PTSD after the incident. Prosecutors had dropped all charges against her.
A Broken Arm
Garner left a Walmart in June 2020 without paying for items worth a total of $13.88. She was stopped by employees, who took the soda, candy and T-shirt involved. Garner offered to pay for the items by credit card, but employees refused. Still, they called police on the elderly woman because she had attempted to remove an employee’s mask. They did tell the dispatcher that the individual was old.
She was picking purple wildflowers while walking home when police saw her. Garner also suffers from sensory aphasia, a condition that leaves her with communication issues and an inability to understand speech. Her family asserted that is why she may have tried to pull down the Walmart worker’s mask.
Officer Austin Hopp confronted the confused, 80-pound woman, throwing her to the ground. Garner’s arm was broken and her shoulder dislocated as a result, according to the lawsuit. Bruises covered her body.
Hopp and officer Daria Jalali held Garner against a cruiser while trying to put her arms behind her. A bystander asked if that much aggression was needed as he filmed the scene. The officers told the man to get out of there, as it was none of his business.
Ready for the Pop?
A booking cell video shows Hopp, Jalali and Sgt. Phil Metzler rewatching the body camera footage on a computer as Garner sat in jail. They laughed about the incident. At one point, Hopp says, “Ready for the pop?” as the sound of Garner’s shoulder dislocation is heard. The officers gave each other a fist bump. “We crushed it,” said one.
At that point, Garner had still not received medical attention for her serious injuries. The lawsuit states she spent four hours “weeping in pain” and handcuffed before receiving medical care.
Since her arrest, Garner has stopped going on walks and withdrawn from her family, according to the lawsuit.
Hopp was later charged with assault in the second degree, an attempt to influence a public servant, and first-degree official misconduct. Daria Jalali, an officer who watched the video and mocked Garner, was charged with failure to perform the duty of reporting excessive force, failure to perform the duty to intervene in excessive use of force, and first-degree official misconduct.
Jalali and Hopp resigned from the department. Metzler has been on paid leave since April. Another officer, Tyler Blackett, also resigned after the video showed he was also laughing about the incident with Hopp and Jalali.
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