After reviewing video footage of a Colorado police officer breaking an elderly woman’s arm for no justifiable reason and another officer failing to intervene, the District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that both officers face multiple criminal charges against them.
On June 26, 2020, police body cam video recorded Loveland Police Officer Austin Hopp as he confronted Karen Garner, a 73-year-old woman who suffers from dementia and sensory aphasia, which impairs her ability to verbally communicate and understand others’ communications. Walmart employees called the police after Garner attempted to leave the store with $13.88 worth of food and cleaning products.
In the video, Officer Hopp cuffed Garner’s hands behind her back before shoving her against the hood of a patrol car. Despite the fact that Garner is only five feet tall and weighs 80lbs., Hopp abruptly dislocated her shoulder, fractured her humerus, and sprained her wrist as Officer Daria Jalali assisted him in restraining her.
Last month, Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer announced that officers Hopp, Jalali, and community service officer Tyler Blackett, who assisted in booking Garner, have resigned from the department after being placed on administrative leave. On Wednesday, District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin announced that Hopp has been charged with second degree assault, attempt to influence a public servant, and official misconduct, while Jalali was charged with failure to report excessive use of force, failure to intervene, and official misconduct.
According to the affidavits, Hopp’s use of force against Garner was “neither reasonable nor necessary to complete the arrest of Karen Garner given her apparent age, her size, her demeanor, and the lack of physical threat to Hopp and Jalali.” Hopp also allegedly failed to include in his report that he was the direct cause of Garner’s fractured arm and thereby attempted to influence his superiors, who were all public servants, in order to “avoid liability, reprimand, or to otherwise benefit himself.”
Jalali failed to intervene to prevent Hopp from using excessive force and later failed to report the use of excessive force to her immediate supervisor, according to her affidavit. Booking area footage reportedly caught Jalali and Hopp mocking Garner while reviewing Hopp’s body cam video of the arrest.
“Ensuring public trust in law enforcement and in our criminal justice system is vital to our community’s safety and our fundamental belief in fairness,” District Attorney McLaughlin stated in a press release. “A thorough and independent investigation by the Critical Incident Response Team was presented to my office and based on that evidence, we have found that excessive force was used, and criminal charges were therefore warranted. The charges we have filed are based both on the use of force during the arrest of Ms. Garner, and the alleged failure to perform certain duties during and after the arrest that the law and a peace officer’s sworn duties require. I believe this decision speaks clearly to our commitment to accountability through the CIRT process and is a step toward seeking justice for Ms. Garner and her family.”
Last month, Garner’s attorney, Sarah Schielke, filed a federal lawsuit accusing the city and police officers of violating her client’s constitutional protections against excessive force, to have due process, and violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.