Three police officers resigned after they and the city of Loveland, Colorado were sued over the rough arrest of 73-year-old Karen Garner, who a lawsuit says has cortical dementia. The now-former officers include Austin Hopp, who was the arresting officer during the June 26, 2020 incident; Daria Jalali, who was the second on the scene; and community service officer Tyler Blackett, who is being sued for allegedly ignoring the plaintiff’s injuries.
“Actions of all [Loveland Police Department] officers in connection with Garner’s arrest are subject to a criminal investigation under the authority of the 8th Judicial District Attorney and being conducted by Fort Collins Police Services,” the department said in a statement obtained by Law&Crime. “The Loveland Police Department, in consultation with the District Attorney and regional law enforcement partners, sought the criminal investigation under the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) protocol, a process that preserves impartiality and integrity in the conduct of such investigations. Documents, video footage and other records produced and compiled in connection with the Karen Garner arrest and its aftermath will be considered by investigators from the District Attorney and Fort Collins Police Services, chosen through mutual agreement to lead the investigation.”
According to the lawsuit, Garner forgot to pay $13.88 for products at Walmart because of her condition. Employees stopped her at the entrance. They refused to let her pay.
As seen on video, Hopp confronted Garner on the side of the road. The plaintiff, who the lawsuit says suffers from sensory aphasia that interferes with her communicative abilities, turned to walk away. The officer took her to the ground and handcuffed her. He picked her up, bent her over the hood of his vehicle, and twisted her left arm.
“Are you finished?” he said. “Are you finished? We don’t play this game. You understand me? If you try to kick me, oh, this is going to be bad.”
The lawsuit said that he fractured and dislocated her shoulder.
A male bystander was so disturbed that he called out Hopp, but the officer dismissed his concerns.
“See, you don’t know the whole situation,” said Hopp. “That’s the thing.”
Police station surveillance footage, which was released after the body cam footage, showed Hopp, Jalali, and an officer identified in an amended complaint as Blackett bantering about the arrest, fist-bumping about it, and watching back body cam footage in enjoyment. Hopp repeatedly pointed out there was a “pop.”
“Did you hear the pop?” he said. “When I had her pushed against the car when you first got there? I was like, ‘Okay, you’re gonna play,’ and I was pushing, pushing, pushing, and I hear ‘pop,’ I was like ‘Oh, no.'”
Hopp sounded slightly more serious while voicing concern that Garner was “senile.” Even during the arrest, he downplayed the challenge of wrestling with Garner, saying she weighed “like 20 pounds.”
Blackett and Sgt. Antolina Hill were added to an amended complaint on Sunday. Citing surveillance footage, the plaintiff’s legal team says the officers were aware of Garner’s injuries but did not summon help. Supervising officer Sgt. Philip Metzler was named in the original lawsuit; he was accused of helping cover up what happened and helping deny Garner access to medical care.
Update – 7:20 p.m.: Garner family attorney Sarah Schielke said in a statement obtained by Law&Crime that it was “long overdue” for the three officers to become unemployed, but voiced concern about Metzler still being part of the department, and Hill remaining on duty.
The family criticized a speech by Chief Robert Ticer.
“Today we listened to Chief Ticer give a speech singularly endeavoring to protect only himself and the reputation of the LPD,” they said. “He repeatedly dodged questions regarding our family. He made no reference to Karen personally. And just like on June 26, 2020, the inhumane treatment of our mother was ignored and his continued support of the department was the focus. He said that our mother’s case has ‘hurt him personally.’ It is clear that the only thing that has ‘hurt him personally’ has been the attention this case has brought to his department. Not what happened to our mother. We are
[Screengrab via Loveland Police Department]
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