LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4)– The family of a 73-year-old Loveland woman living with dementia says her mental state has regressed since her arrest last June by former Loveland Police Officer Austin Hopp. Karen Garner experienced a broken arm, separated shoulder and sprained wrist during her June 2020 arrest, as Hopp was investigating a report of attempted theft from Walmart.
Holding her mother’s sweater, Alissa Swartz was still brought to tears over the incident, even after 10 months.READ MORE: Pedro Juan Gallegos Arrested, Accused In Weekend Shooting Of Denver Police Officer
“This is mom’s jacket that she had on the day it happened. It has got the blood on the back from where her hands were handcuffed,” Swartz said. “She was confused and scared. She didn’t understand what was going on.”
Swartz said she was troubled, like many in the public, while watching the body camera footage of her mother’s arrest. Swartz said she believed Hopp should have been able to tell, relatively quickly, that her mother was not the same as most others. She said her mother’s confusion could be seen when Hopp first contacted her, and was made even more evident when Garner repeated the same thing over and over during the arrest, “I am going home.”
“Did he not understand because she was repeating over and over, ‘I’m going home’? It was as if he wasn’t listening to her,” Swartz said.
In security footage obtained by CBS from Walmart, Garner is seen trying to leave the Loveland store without paying for $13.88 in merchandise. Her lawyer, Sarah Schielke, alleges her client was confused and forgot to pay. Schielke said Garner, when confronted by security, offered to pay. But, Schielke alleges the Walmart staff instead chose to call Loveland police instead of accepting payment.
When first contacted by Hopp, Garner refuses to stop. She was only two blocks from her home and was carrying a phone and recently picked wildflowers. Hopp orders her to stop multiple times. Garner shrugs at Hopp and continues to walk. That is when Hopp is seen forcefully grabbing Garner, throwing her to the ground, arresting her and then leading her to his vehicle. As former officer Daria Jalali arrives, Hopp is heard telling Garner not to kick him as he shoves her handcuffed arm up toward the back of her neck. A pop is heard, and Garner yells out in pain.
She is then thrown to the ground again, her ankels tied together, and loaded into a police cruiser. At Loveland Police headquarters, security footage digitally enhanced by Schielke’s team caught Hopp and Jalalo, and community services officer Tyler Blackett, laughing while rewatching the video of the arrest. Hopp is heard telling them multiple times that he heard Garner’s arm pop, yet none of the officers notified medical staff.
Garner even complained of her injuries while sitting in a nearby cell, where she sat chained to a bench without treatment for hours.
“They hurt my shoulders,” Garner told an officer. “They hurt my wrist.”READ MORE: Winter Driving Returns To Colorado's I-70 Mountain Corridor, Truckers Will Need Chains
“I understand that, but you kept fighting us,” Jalali responded.
Schielke told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas that her client still has trouble dressing herself due to the injuries she sustained during the arrest nearly a year ago.
Swartz said her mother’s mental state has regressed in the months that have passed, alleging her mother’s dementia has become more of an issue as a result of the arrest.
“It has accelerated it. She is scared, she is anxious,” Swartz said.
Officers Hopp, Jalali and Blackett all turned in their resignation last week, as first reported by CBS4. The community, including Mayor Jackie Marsh, attended a protest outside of the police department on Saturday. Many called for Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer and City Manager Steve Adams to resign as well.
Many expressed their frustrations that the officers were allowed to resign, instead of being fired. By resigning, the officers are able to keep their pensions and can apply for other policing jobs more easily in Colorado.
Ticer said the actions by his former officers were not reflective of the hard-working women and men of the Loveland Police Department. He expressed disappointment in the way they handled the arrest, promised to prioritize police training and said he supported the criminal investigation Fort Collins Police are now conducting in to the incident.
Ticer once again stood by the claims her first told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas, assuring the community he was not aware of the serious injuries to Ms. Garner until the federal lawsuit was filed.
Swartz said she was happy that the officers were no longer on the police force, but said their resignations were not enough of a punishment in her opinion.MORE NEWS: Denver Weather: Rain Today Before Unusual Mid-May Snow Tonight
“I think they need to go to jail. They need to be held accountable,” Swartz said.