2-Ex Cops Charged in Violent Arrest That Broke Arm of Karen Garner, an Elderly Woman With Dementia

Karen Garner suffered a broken arm and a dislocated shoulder.
Karen Garner suffered a dislocated shoulder, a broken arm, a sprained wrist and multiple bruises during her arrest for allegedly shoplifting, her family said.The Life & Liberty Law Office

The violent arrest of Karen Garner, 73, was captured in bodycam footage that showed an officer throwing her to the ground as she cried out in pain. The grandmother of nine has dementia. Security cameras showed officers mocking her as she sat in a cell.

Two former police officers in Colorado now face criminal charges in the violent arrest of Karen Garner, a 73-year-old grandmother with dementia who was thrown to the ground and handcuffed, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Former officer Austin Hopp was charged with assaulting the woman. Another former officer, Daria Jalali, was charged with failing to intervene in a case of excessive force and not reporting it, said Gordon McLaughlin, district attorney for the Eighth Judicial District of Colorado.

"Austin Hopp used excessive force in the arrest of Ms. Garner and that resulted in serious bodily injury. Daria Jalali, having witnessed that excessive force, failed to live up to her duties under the law as a sworn peace officer," McLaughlin said. 

Garner suffered a broken arm, a dislocated shoulder, a sprained wrist and multiple bruises during her arrest, her family said.

Both officers worked for the Loveland Police Department and resigned last month.

The episode happened on June 26, 2020, when Garner was stopped along a highway as she picked wildflowers. She was thrown to the ground and handcuffed by officers who suspected her of shoplifting $13.88 worth of items from a local Walmart.

Walmart employees had stopped Garner as she was leaving and she returned the items, authorities said.

Garner then started walking home. Walmart employees had also contacted Loveland police, who caught up with the elderly woman on the side of a road.

Police body-camera footage released last month by Garner's attorney, Sarah Schielke, showed the woman crying out in pain as she is tackled to the ground, and saying she was "going home."

Security footage from the police station where Garner was taken was also released last month by Schielke and posted to YouTube. That video shows officers gathered around a computer watching the bodycam footage of Garner's arrest and laughing.

"Hear the pop?" one officer says.

"What did you pop?" asks another.

"I think it was her shoulder," the first officer answers. 

"The officers laugh, fist-bump and celebrate ... the excessive force used on Ms. Garner," Schielke said when releasing the police station video.

The officers were seen fist-bumping on the video. One officer refers to Garner as "ancient" and another acknowledges he failed to read Garner her Miranda Rights during her arrest and confinement.

Police station video showed officers laughing and fist-bumping while watching body cam footage of Garner's arrest. - The Life & Liberty Law Office

In April, Garner's family filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Loveland and five officers alleging Garner's civil rights had been violated. The suit claims Hopp used excessive force, and that Garner was left in a cell without medical attention for hours.

The former officers have not commented publicly about the case or Wednesday's charges. Inside Edition Digital has contacted the department's union for comment and for information about attorneys for the accused.

The Garner family said Wednesday they were thankful charges had been filed, but said more needs to be done.

"You can see in the video how they're laughing at my mom," Garner's daughter, Allisa Swartz said at a news conference. "I feel like they think that they are above the law, and they are the ones who are supposed to be protecting all of us. I just want justice for my mom."

The elderly woman has been traumatized by the encounter, Swartz said.

"Multiple individuals at this police department watched what Hopp and Jalali did, and all of those individuals did nothing about it," said attorney Schielke.

Public outcry after the videos were released prompted an outside investigation by the Fort Collins Police Services, which recently presented its findings to the district attorney.

Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer said he supported the criminal charges and that his officers had received training in dealing with people who have Alzheimer's..

"Obviously, when we have an incident where former police officers are charged with a crime, we're going to have broken trust," Ticer said. "We recognize that. We understand that," he said. "Our department wants to restore that trust."

Hopp has been charged with second-degree assault, attempting to influence a public servant and official misconduct. 

Jalali was charged with failure to report excessive use of force, failure to intervene in excessive use of force, and first-degree official misconduct.

Related Stories