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Colorado officer accused of assaulting woman with dementia thought arrest went 'great,' new video shows

The video showed Karen Garner being booked on June 26, 2020, inside the Loveland Police Department.
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Colorado police officers accused of assaulting a 73-year-old woman with dementia last year are seen in a video released Monday appearing to laugh about the arrest and commenting on the moment when an officer apparently dislocated her shoulder.

The video, which was released by Karen Garner’s lawyer, came from a camera inside the Loveland Police Department and showed her being booked on June 26, 2020.

Lawyer Sarah Schielke said she obtained the video after Garner was charged in the incident with theft, resisting arrest and obstruction.

Those charges were later dismissed, Schielke said, and county authorities launched an independent investigation into allegations of excessive force raised in a federal lawsuit filed by Schielke this month.

In the video, which includes subtitles that haven’t been verified by NBC News, the arresting officers can be seen carrying Garner into the police station. At one point, one of the officers, identified by Schielke as Austin Hopp, said he was worried that Garner was “a little senile” but later added that he believed the arrest went “great.”

At another point, after Hopp said it was a “good idea” to handcuff Garner to a bench inside the station, he appeared to mimic her and laugh.

According to the suit, Garner was not offered medical assistance for six hours — though her shoulder had been dislocated and a bone in her left arm was fractured.

Photos included in the suit showed the upper section of Garner’s arm, which appeared purple.

Near the end of the roughly hour-long video released Monday, Hopp and two other officers appear to watch body-camera video of the confrontation, which occurred after Garner tried leaving a Walmart without paying for a candy bar, a t-shirt and other items.

A store employee retrieved the items — which totaled $13.88, according to the suit — and officers confronted Garner while she was walking home. In body-camera video provided by Schielke, Hopp can be seen telling Garner to stop. She shrugs her shoulders and continues walking.

As Garner repeatedly tells the officer she’s “going home,” Hopp takes her to the ground and handcuffs her. After a struggle with Hopp and a second officer, identified in the suit as Daria Jalali, Garner is hog-tied at her ankles and forced into the police car.

"She was bleeding from the nose, forehead, and wrist, all over herself," the suit says, adding that she was "crying for home."

The suit adds that Garner has cortical dementia and sensory aphasia, and has memory loss and an inability to understand speech. The suit describes shoplifting and her response to the officers as symptoms of her condition.

As the officers watched the body-camera video in the clip released Monday, Hopp says: “Ready for the pop?” appearing to refer to the moment when he dislocated her shoulder. “Hear the pop?” he says afterward.

Moments later, Jalali can be heard saying, “I hate this.” To which another officer responds: “I love it.”

Hopp and Jalali did not immediately return requests for comment Monday evening.

The Loveland Police Department said last week that the arresting officer was placed on administrative leave during an inquiry of the encounter. A supervising officer who was also involved in the arrest was reassigned to administrative duties.

In a statement, the department said it takes the allegations of excessive force seriously "and shares with the community the concerns about video images that became public on Wednesday."

"LPD had not previously received a complaint regarding serious injuries to Karen Garner and learned only on April 14 of the allegations surrounding her arrest," the statement said. "The investigation of the event will include an examination of the actions of all officers who may have been involved."

A department spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about the video released Monday, nor did a union representing Loveland police officers.

In a statement to NBC News, Larimer County District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin, whose office is involved in the independent probe, described the video as "concerning." He said he would consider the officers' statements as he weighs whether criminal charges should be filed.

"Everyone involved understands the importance of this investigation in addressing community concerns and it will be conducted as expeditiously and transparently as possible," he said.