In response to a recently filed federal civil rights lawsuit accusing a Colorado police officer of breaking an elderly woman’s arm after placing her in handcuffs, police officials have placed the officer on leave. Two other officers involved in the arrest were reassigned to administrative duties.
On June 26, 2020, a Walmart surveillance camera recorded Karen Garner, 73, attempting to leave the store without paying $13.88 worth of food and cleaning products. In the video, Walmart employees stopped Garner and before retrieving the unpaid items from her.
On Friday, a Walmart spokesperson issued the following statement: “We stopped Ms. Garner after noticing her attempt to take merchandise from the store without paying for it. When we addressed this issue directly with her the situation escalated when she forcibly removed an associate’s facemask and fled the store. The police were called only after Ms. Garner became physical with an associate.”
Later recorded on Loveland Police Officer Austin Hopp’s body cam video, Garner was walking towards her home when the officer confronted her. Officer Hopp stated, “Alright let’s stop, ma’am. I don’t think you want to play it this way. Ma’am, police. Stop.”
Suffering from dementia and sensory aphasia, Garner kept repeating throughout the video, “I’m going home.”
Despite the fact that Garner was unarmed, her hands were cuffed behind her back, and she was physically unable to overpower Officers Austin Hopp and Daria Jalali while shoved against the hood of a patrol car, Hopp was recorded on police body cam footage dislocating her shoulder, fracturing her humerus, and spraining her wrist. The charges against Garner were later dropped.
“Community members are concerned about this. We are concerned about this, too. That is why we are taking swift actions, we placed those officers on leave status,” said Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer. “I have to look at that as something very serious.”
Chief Ticer added, “Anytime there’s a complaint against law enforcement, there’s always a real possibility of trust — losing public trust.”
On Thursday, the District Attorney’s Office issued the following statement: “Our office is committed to fair and professional reviews of alleged excessive use of force. After further review, the District Attorney’s Office will consider whether an independent criminal investigation is warranted.”
After reviewing the body cam footage and federal lawsuit, Loveland Police recently announced that Hopp has been placed on administrative leave. Two other officers involved in the arrest, Sgt. Phil Metzler and Officer Daria Jalali, were reassigned to administrative duties.
“The investigation of the event will include an examination of the actions of all officers who may have been involved,” a police statement said.
No officers currently face criminal charges for breaking Garner’s arm while she was already in custody.