Family of 73-Year-Old Woman With Dementia Shoved to the Ground During Arrest Claims Excessive Force in Lawsuit


The family of an elderly Colorado woman with dementia whose violent arrest was captured on body camera has filed a lawsuit claiming excessive force. Officers were later heard mocking the woman in surveillance video. Three Loveland officers have resigned.

The daughter of a 73-year-old woman with dementia who was shoved to the ground and handcuffed by police last summer is speaking out about the ordeal. In an emotional interview on “CBS This Morning,” Allisa Swartz said her mom, Karen Garner, was “confused and scared” by what happened.

“She didn’t understand what was going on,” Swartz said.

Bodycam footage shows police approaching Garner and telling her to stop alongside the road as she carried flowers. She was accused of trying to shoplift $14 of items from a Walmart in Loveland, Colorado. Store security says once they confronted her, she returned the items. But police seemed determined to arrest her. 

The newly released footage from the arrest shows officers claiming that Garner, who is 80 pounds, is resisting arrest and then forcing her to the ground and putting her in handcuffs. Another officer came to assist, and Garner was pushed hard against the cop car.

Swartz said that Garner suffered severe injuries from the encounter. 

“This is mom's jacket that she had on the day that it happened. It’s got the blood on the back from where her hands were handcuffed," Swartz said.

Garner’s family says her dementia impairs her ability to understand. They say she suffered a dislocated shoulder and broken arm and allege she was kept in a jail cell for six hours with no medical attention. They have filed a lawsuit, claiming excessive force. 

That led to the discovery of a video showing police watching the footage of the arrest and mocking the woman.

Three police officers have since resigned and a sergeant is on administrative leave over the incident. Garner’s daughter is calling on those officers to be prosecuted.

“I think they need to go to jail,” Swartz said.

A number of police departments in Colorado are seeking training for their officers from the Alzheimer’s Association on how to handle similar situations.

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