LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – Dozens of outraged Northern Coloradans took to the streets of Loveland on Saturday to protest the forceful arrest of 73-year-old Karen Garner. She’s the woman living with dementia whose arm was broken last June in an altercation with Loveland Police. Garner sat in a jail cell for hours without medical attention as former Loveland Police officers Austin Hopp and Daria Jalali allegedly laughed while reviewing the body camera footage.
The footage, first shown on CBS4, sparked international outrage. Hopp and Jalali are heard talking about how they knew Garner was injured in the arrest, yet nobody reported the injuries to medical staff.
“It really spoke to me,” said Morgan Goldschmidt, the organizer of Saturday’s protest.
Goldschmidt told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas she couldn’t believe none of the Loveland Police staff members who knew about the injuries reported it.
“The arrest and booking video show that it is not always a life and death decision an officer is making in the heat of the moment. That is a culture they had in there to mock and laugh at an old lady,” Goldschmidt said. “Why did not a single officer step up to say something when this happened?”
Hopp, Jalali and community services officer Tyler Blackett all resigned from the department on Friday after the videos were first released to CBS4 by Garner’s lawyer, Sarah Schielke.
Many said they were not only disappointed the officers resigned and were not fired, but how it took nearly a year for the footage to be released and spark change.
“I don’t think there is anything that can satisfy us after seeing those videos. I think accountability is a big thing. Any officer, city official or council members who knew about this incident and kept it a secret needs to be held accountable. I believe letting these officers resign wasn’t harsh enough,” Goldschmidt said.
Petitions were circulated at the protest, calling for new standards and training to be implemented at Loveland Police.
“As a community we get to set the standards of what is acceptable with our police department,” said Jen Castaneda, a rally attendee.
Distractions at the peaceful protest included some counter-protesters clashing with a few protesters nearby. Arguments and shouting could be heard, while some showed up in bullet proof vests carrying multiple guns each.
The event was largely peaceful and was even attended by Loveland Mayor Jacki Marsh.
Marsh said she couldn’t make any decisions on the future of the department’s leadership, even though the community was calling for Chief Robert Ticer to step down. Marsh said the city’s laws don’t give her control over the hiring and firing of officers.
“People are hurting. They are upset and they want answers,” Marsh said.
Garner was carrying wild flowers shortly after she was accused of trying to steal nearly $14 worth of merchandise from Walmart. She was thrown to the ground by Hopp after failing to stop on his command.
The protestors left their signs of anger at the doors of Loveland Police. Then, they also left flowers, which were left to send a message to Garner.
“(Karen,) you are loved, you matter, and you are worthy. She needs to know that,” Castaneda said.