LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – Newly released jail security footage obtained by CBS4 allegedly shows Loveland Police Officer Austin Hopp recounting the moment he felt 73-year-old Karen Garner’s shoulder “pop” during an arrest. Garner, who lives with dementia and other challenges, was left in a cell for multiple hours without medical attention as the officers discussed what happened, according to her lawyer.
Garner, originally accused of stealing nearly $14 worth of merchandise from Walmart, experienced a broken arm, separated shoulder and sprained wrist as a result of the arrest, her lawyers claim.
Lawyers with The Life & Liberty Law Office paid for sound engineers to digitally enhance the quality of the jailhouse security footage from the June 2020 arrest. In the video, provided to CBS4 by the law firm, responding officers Hopp and Daria Jalali are heard recounting the arrest.
“How do you think that went?” Jalali asked Hopp, shortly after Hopp gave her a fist bump.
“I thought it went great,” Hopp said.
“You do?” Jalali responded.
“Did you not?” Hopp asked.
Jalali appeared to take a moment to think.
“Apparently you did not,” Hopp said.
“No, I did,” Jalali said.
Jalali goes on to suggest that she wanted to intervene, however she felt Hopp wasn’t giving her the opportunity to assist in any way.
“I think we crushed it,” Hopp said.
In the enhanced audio obtained by CBS4 Officer Hopp is heard laughing with other officers as they re-watch the body camera footage of the arrest.
“As if things couldn’t get any worse, they’ve gotten much worse,” said Sarah Schielke, the attorney representing Garner. “It made me sick.”
While laughing and showing others the moment Garner’s arm likely broke, fellow responding Officer Jalali seemed to be disturbed by that had happened. At times she hesitates to answer questions involving how the arrest happened. And, while her peers watched the body camera footage of the arrest, she is seen covering her eyes repeatedly telling Hopp she “hated” watching the video. Hopp laughed and said he loved it.
Schielke said the newly released video could quash any likelihood of the officers claiming they didn’t know Garner was injured during the arrest.
“When you see the booking video, you see the intent. You see the knowledge,” Schielke said. “It tells a very different story. Loveland (police) knew.”
Schielke said she believed Officer Jalali realized what happened was not okay. However, she said she was still “disgusted” with Jalali and the other officers who watched the video with Hopp at the police department. Schielke said those officers had the ability and responsibility of reporting Hopp’s issues to both medics and higher command within the department.
The charges against Ms. Garner were dropped. Now, the arresting officer, Hopp, may be the one facing criminal charges of his own. Fort Collins Police are now conducting a criminal investigation in to the arrest of Karen Garner.
Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer told CBS4 he and his agency were unaware of Garner’s serious injuries until lawyer Sarah Schielke filed a federal lawsuit 10 months after the arrest. However, as the jailhouse conversation continues while the two officers complete paperwork, Hopp allegedly says he knew Garner was injured during the arrest. Schielke alleges her client sat in a cell 10 feet away, crying, for more than 6 hours without being treated.
As the conversation continues, Jalali accuses Hopp of pushing her to the side every time she tried to intervene.
“You were definitely fighting. You’re just a lot tougher than she is,” Hopp allegedly says. “She’s just very flexible and very…”
Hopp then covers his mouth and whispers something, which audio couldn’t pick up.
Then, Hopp allegedly admits that he knew Garner was injured during the arrest.
“Did you hear that pop?” he asked Jalali, who denied hearing anything during the arrest.
“I was pushing, pushing, pushing. I hear, (Hopp makes sound of pop) and I was like, oh no,” Hopp said.
“That’s going to turn into something,” Jalali responds. “No doubt, with all the cars that stopped.”
Jalali was referring to bystanders who pulled over during the arrest. In the body camera footage from the arrest, at least one man confronts Hopp accusing him of excessive force.
Later, as Hopp speaks with a Loveland police officer working the jail intake office, he is heard telling others that he felt Garner has mental issues.
“She’s ancient,” Hopp allegedly said. “I’m a little worried she’s senile and stuff.”
Another officer later asks Hopp if he read Garner her Miranda rights.
“Nope,” Hopp responded. “I did not.”
The Loveland Police Department released the following statement:
“All matters related to the arrest of Loveland resident Karen Garner in June 2020 are subject to a criminal investigation, ordered by the 8th Judicial District Attorney and conducted by Fort Collins Police Services. The District Attorney’s action and the third-party investigation are in keeping with a multi-agency Critical Incident Response Team protocol. Independent comment from the Loveland Police Department would not be appropriate at this time. LPD has faith in the due process that this investigation allows for.”
In a previous interview with CBS4’s Dillon Thomas, Chief Ticer said the body camera footage of the arrest was concerning.
“Community members are concerned about this. We are concerned about this, too. That is why we are taking swift actions, we placed those officers on leave status,” said Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer. “I have to look at that as something very serious.”
Ticer said Hopp and Jalali were taken off of patrol following the lawsuit. Hopp was placed on administrative leave while Jalali was assigned to desk duty.
“We will have an independent investigation. We will have the lawsuit to work through. And, to be frank with you, we were not aware of the serious bodily injury. That was first brought to our attention yesterday,” Ticer said.
Schielke said her client is asking a jury to provide a substantial financial payout, one which she believes is the only way the city can potentially make right on the case.
The following YouTube videos were provided by the The Life & Liberty Law Office: