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2 former Colorado officers charged in arrest that injured woman with dementia

Karen Garner, 73, suffered a dislocated shoulder, a fractured arm and a sprained wrist, a federal lawsuit alleges.
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Two former Colorado police officers have been charged in connection with an arrest in which a 73-year-old woman who has dementia is alleged to have suffered multiple injuries, authorities said Wednesday.

Austin Hopp, the onetime Loveland police officer who was recorded on body camera video tackling the woman, Karen Garner, on June 26, was charged with assault causing serious bodily injury, official misconduct and attempt to influence a public servant, said Gordon McLaughlin, the district attorney for Colorado's 8th Judicial District.

Bodycam video shows a police officer bringing a 73-year-old woman who has dementia to the ground in Loveland, Colo.
Bodycam video shows a police officer bringing a 73-year-old woman who has dementia to the ground in Loveland, Colo.The Life & Liberty Law Office

Fellow former officer Daria Jalali was charged with failure to report use of force, failure to intervene and official misconduct, McLaughlin said.

A federal lawsuit alleges that Garner suffered a dislocated shoulder, a fractured arm and a sprained wrist after she was slammed to the ground and hogtied.

The altercation was recorded on police body camera video and made public by Garner's attorney, Sarah Schielke.

Garner was walking home when she was stopped by Hopp on suspicion of stealing $13.88 worth of items from a Walmart, her attorney has said.

Garner has dementia and sensory aphasia, which impairs her ability to verbally communicate with people or understand others' communications, Schielke has said.

The body camera video shows Hopp asking Garner to stop. She shrugs and keeps walking before Hopp takes her to the ground.

Jalali arrives, and video shows them struggling with Garner before Hopp hogties her and forces her into the back of a police car.

At a news conference Wednesday, Police Chief Robert Ticer said that while he cannot comment on specific allegations, "I fully support these charges."

Ticer said he was "not surprised" by the charges against the two former officers, who he said had no previous disciplinary actions on their records and are "no longer in any way associated with our department."

"My reaction is: We have two former employees who were charged with crimes. They do not work here, so our reaction is extreme disappointment as a community, as a police department, as human beings — we are very upset about it," he said.

Ticer said a majority of his officers have recently undergone Alzheimer's awareness training and will undergo additional de-escalation training next month. He said the training is meant to help officers use "time and distance" to "slow down" encounters with the public.

Members of Garner's family spoke out Wednesday and expressed disappointment that there were not more charges, and that some officers "did nothing."

"This isn't just only affecting my mom and my family, it's also affecting this whole city of Loveland," Allisa Schwartz, Karen's daughter, said through tears at the press conference.

"I feel like these are pretty minimal crimes that they put against them, and there's a whole list of charges they could have put against these officers" Schwartz said.

"It feels like they are hiding behind this department," Schwartz said. "I feel like they think they are above the law and they're the ones that are supposed to be protecting all of us."

"The first eight seconds of the video that you watched before Hopp took her down is Karen Garner," said Shannon Steward, Karen's daughter in law. "She is walking, she is happy, she is smiling. We haven't seen that since. She doesn't smile since then."

"How is it that just six criminal charges against just two officers is the result, while everybody else at the Loveland Police Department, namely the Chief of Police Robert Ticer and the on-scene supervisor Sgt. Metzler remain employed?" asked their lawyer, Sara Schielke.