Screengrab courtesy of attorney Sarah Shielke, Life and Liberty law firm
Two former Colorado police officers have been charged several times with their roles in arresting a 73-year-old woman with dementia last year.
Charges were filed Wednesday against former Loveland Police Department officials Austin Hopp and Darie Jalali, who arrested and booked Karen Garner on her way home from local Walmart after failing to pay for goods worth about $ 14.
“I was able to review dozens of witnesses, interviews, a multitude of records, phone calls, reports and photographs, hours of audio and video, and a wealth of additional evidence, which led me to the decisions I make here today,” Gordon McLaughlin, District Attorney of the Eighth District Court Colorado said during a press conference, Colorado Public Radio reported.
Hopp, who handcuffed Garner and allegedly dislocated her shoulder, is charged with two felony counts – a second-degree assault that inflicted serious bodily injury on a high-risk victim and an attempt to influence a public official – and a misdemeanor charge for misconduct. . Jalali faces three misdemeanor charges, including failure to report excessive use of force, failure to intervene in the use of excessive force, and an official violation of the law.
Both officers resigned last month.
A federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Garner’s family last month said Garner wandered out of Loveland Walmart on June 26, 2020, carrying a “Pepsi, a candy box, a T-shirt and several Shout Wipe charges.” Her lawyers say the woman forgot to pay for things and that employees refused to allow her when she offered to pay the $ 13.88 bill. Instead, surveillance camera footage shows an employee tried to keep her in the store while they waited for the law enforcement.
According to Hopp’s incident report, Garner gave Walmart employees a note as they tried to take her to the store’s loss prevention office.
Footage of a police altercation on a body camera shows Hopp retreating to the edge of the road as Garner walks home along an empty field covered in grass. Hopp approaches Garner recognizing himself as a police officer and urging her to stop.
“I don’t think you want to play like this,” he says. “You just left Walmart. Do you have to be arrested now?” Pita Hopp.
Garner, whose lawyers say he is 5 feet tall and weighs 80 kilograms, seems confused by the orders of the police and says that he is going home before he turns away from Hopp. In his left hand he holds a cell phone and a small bouquet of wildflowers picked from the road. With her back to him, Hopp reaches for her left hand, pulls her behind her back, and nails her to the ground. Garner looks frightened, repeating over and over, “I’m going home.” She tries to push away, but Hopp forces her back and handcuffs her.
Out of breath, Hopp calls for an incident. “After a short fight she is now held back,” he says.
Later, Garner is seen standing with her chest next to Hopp’s car, while Hopp still holds her left hand behind her back. Jalali, who has just arrived, according to the incident report, approaches and also takes Garner by the hand. “Wait,” Jalali shouts as he raises Garner’s elbow.
In one version of the enhanced sound video created by Garner’s lawyers, a loud shot is heard as Hopp and Jalali appear to be pushing Garner’s elbow upward. Garner’s attorney, Sarah Schielke, says it’s the sound of her shoulder sprained.
Garner’s body begins to slide down the hood and Hopp accuses her of refusing to keep her own weight. Then he brings her back to earth.
Two police officers eventually transport Garner to the station and where she was booked. According to court documents, she remained handcuffed on a bench in the cell for six hours before receiving any medical assistance, despite numerous Garner complaints that her shoulder and wrist ached.
Eventually, the district attorney dropped all charges against Garner.
Scheilke’s lawsuit states that in addition to dementia, Garner also suffers from sensory aphasia, which makes it difficult for her to communicate and understand others.
“This is a start, but it’s not enough,” Shielke said in response to the accusations.
“These cops didn’t do it in a vacuum,” she said. “Several people at the Loveland Police Department watched what Hopp and Jalali were doing.”
Schielke noted that the department did not take any action against the officer until media reports published Garner’s violent arrest, despite the fact that several other officers, as well as supervisors, were aware of what had happened. Only then did officials try to launch an investigation into the incident that resulted in the charges on Wednesday, she said.
“ALL these individuals have done nothing about it. It’s not a problem of Hopp-a-Jalali-a-being-cheater-criminal. It’s the city of Loveland that is creating a problem for them,” Schielke said.
During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer suggested there is no widespread culture of abuse in the department. He said he “fully supports” the accusations against the two former police officers.
“Their actions and attitudes are in direct contrast to the culture we seek to achieve here at Loveland Police Department.”
He added that as soon as the officers found out about the seriousness of Garner’s injuries on April 14, they acted quickly. This included conducting mandatory Alzheimer’s training for all officers in the department.