Recorded on body cam video breaking the arm of an elderly woman with dementia, a former Colorado police officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree assault.
On June 26, 2020, police body cam footage recorded Loveland Police Officer Austin Hopp confronting 73-year-old Karen Garner for allegedly stealing $13.88 worth of food and cleaning products from a Walmart. As Officer Hopp cuffed Garner’s hands behind her back, he suddenly dislocated her shoulder, fractured her humerus, and sprained her wrist after shoving her against the hood of a patrol car.
The charges against Garner were later dropped, and she filed a federal lawsuit accusing the city and police officers of violating her constitutional protections against excessive force, to have due process, and also violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Last year, the City of Loveland agreed to a $3 million settlement.
On Wednesday, Hopp appeared in Larimer County Court and pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, which is punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison. He is currently scheduled to be sentenced on May 5.
“This is a tragic case, anytime a former member of law enforcement has betrayed the public trust like this, this is a case we take extremely seriously,” said Gordon McLaughlin, District Attorney in Larimer County.
“Thirty-eight times Karen said, ‘I’m going home, I’m going home, I’m going home,’ during the arrest. And he ignored her. Then 10 times while she was chained to the bench she said she hurt her shoulder, but was denied medical treatment,” Shannon Steward, Karen’s daughter-in-law, told reporters on Wednesday. “She had pleas that were ignored. And then we have to come here today and honor him with this plea deal, it is just a slap in the face.”
Former Officer Daria Jalali, who also participated in Garner’s arrest, faces three misdemeanor charges and has not entered a plea. Her case is scheduled to begin in April.
Initially placed on administrative leave, Hopp and Jalali later resigned from the department. Community service officer Tyler Blackett, who assisted in booking Garner, also resigned.