Home Posts Ex-cops Face Charges In The Arrest Of A Demented Woman From Colorado.
Ex-cops Face Charges In The Arrest Of A Demented Woman From Colorado.

Ex-cops Face Charges In The Arrest Of A Demented Woman From Colorado.

DENVER (AP) — A police officer who pushed a 73-year-old Colorado woman with dementia to the ground after she left a store without paying for items worth about $14 is charged with using excessive force, while another officer is charged with failing to stop or report his actions, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Austin Hopp is charged with second-degree assault, attempting to influence a public servant, and official misconduct in the arrest of Karen Garner in Loveland, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Denver, last year. Daria Jalali, who arrived after Garner was handcuffed, is charged with failing to report use of force, failing to intervene, and official misconduct.

A person answering the phone at the law firm representing Hopp said the office would not comment on the case, and court records did not list a lawyer for Jalali, and a phone number listed for her did not work.

They were among three officers who resigned last month after a federal lawsuit filed by the woman's family and police video released by their lawyer sparked community outrage and prompted two independent investigations. The June 2020 arrest was captured on Hopp's body-worn camera, and the three officers were also shown talking about the arrest, laughing, and joking in police station surveillance video.

The outcry over how Garner was treated coincides with a national reckoning over police use of force, including against people with mental and physical health issues.

Allisa Swartz, Garner's daughter, expressed her mother's trauma through tears.

“You can see in the video how they're laughing at my mom,” Swartz said at a news conference. “I feel like they think they're above the law, and they're supposed to be protecting all of us. I just want justice for my mom.”

The Garner family is relieved that charges will be filed, but more people should be held accountable, including Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer, according to family attorney Sarah Schielke, who stated that what happened was not the result of a rogue officer, but rather a reflection of systemic problems with the Police Department, and she called for Ticer to resign.

“How could something like this be celebrated, laughed about, reviewed by multiple levels of supervisors and the chain of command, and then swept under the rug for nearly a year?” Schielke wondered.

Ticer said he supports the charges, adding that the officers' actions and attitudes are counter to the department's goals. He dodged a question about calls for his resignation during a news conference, saying he understands "there's a lot of emotions out there and a lot of a lot of desire for justice and accountability."

Ticer stated that he has requested a third-party internal affairs investigation to be overseen by the city's human resources department, and that the majority of his officers completed Alzheimer's disease awareness training after the video surfaced, and that they will receive additional de-escalation training in June.

“Obviously, when we have an incident where former police officers are charged with a crime, we are going to have broken trust,” Ticer said, “and we recognize and understand that.... Our department wants to restore that trust.”

Hopp arrested Garner after she left a store without paying for about $14 worth of items; his body camera footage shows him catching up to her as she walked through a field; she shrugged and turned away from him, appearing to not understand him; he quickly grabbed her arm and pushed the 80-pound (36-kilogram) woman to the ground.

According to the lawsuit, Hopp dislocated Garner's shoulder by shoving her handcuffed left arm forward onto the hood of his patrol car and denied her medical treatment for approximately six hours.

Hopp pushed Garner against the hood of his car, and she tried to turn around and say she was trying to go home; he then pushed her back against the car and moved her bent left arm up near her head, holding it, saying, "Are you finished? Are you finished? We don't play this game."

Jalali said, "Stand up! We're not going to hold you!" about 30 seconds later, as Garner began to slump toward the ground.

According to his arrest affidavit, investigators discovered that Hopp filed reports to mislead his superiors and protect himself. He did not mention Garner's shoulder injury in an initial report, and in a report filed after being told she was going to the hospital, he wrote that Garner was asked several times if she wanted medical attention but did not respond.

Hopp also showed his body camera footage to his fellow officers and asked, "Ready for the pop?"

District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin stated that he only brought charges that he felt a jury would find guilty of.

“While peace officers are allowed to use reasonable force to make an arrest, the investigation in this case revealed that Austin Hopp used excessive force,” he stated.

McLaughlin, who took over as district attorney in January, stated that he was unaware of the arrest or the video until the lawsuit was filed in April, at which point he requested an investigation led by Fort Collins police.

He stated that a member of the district attorney's office did review the video last year as part of its decision to dismiss criminal charges in the shoplifting case, and that he has made it clear to his employees that he will not tolerate anyone "looking the other way" on evidence like that.

This article was contributed to by Associated Press writers Thomas Peipert and Brady McCombs.

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