By Mia Machado
LOVELAND, CO — Police officers here violently arrested and allegedly dislocated the shoulder of a 73-year-old woman with dementia after she was suspected to have exited a Walmart without paying for $13.88 of items.
They later watched the body camera footage of the incident and joked about it, as video released by the woman’s attorney shows.
Now criminal charges have been lodged against the officers, and a civil lawsuit has been filed.
The victim, Karen Garner, suffers from dementia and sensory aphasia, which impairs her ability to verbally communicate and understand others’ communications. Garner is five feet tall and weighs 80 pounds.
Almost 20 percent of all adults of Garner’s age or more suffer from some form of dementia. Forgetting to pay for items at stores is one of the most common and well-known symptoms witnessed in elderly persons suffering from the condition.
On June 26, 2020, Garner was walking through a field on her way home that was two blocks away, picking wildflowers. Officer Hopp pulled up behind her, and called out to her to stop and talk to him. Garner didn’t initially respond to Hopp’s commands, as it appeared she did not understand him.
After indicating that she did not understand him, Garner turned to continue walking home. “I don’t think you want to play it this way,” Hopp said as she continued to walk, “do you need to be arrested right now?”
Body camera footage of the incident, released with the lawsuit by Garner’s attorney, shows Hopp violently grabbing her, twisting her arms behind her back, throwing her to the ground and handcuffing her. Only eight seconds had passed between officer Hopp reaching Garner and officer Hopp throwing the 80 pound woman to the ground.
Defendant officer Jalali arrived to assist officer Hopp at the scene, violently dislocating Garner’s shoulder, fracturing her humerus, and spraining her wrist. They then threw her onto the ground again and hog-tied her.
Throughout this attack, the only thing the scared, disabled, and injured Garner was able to vocalize was “I’m going home.” She cried out these words more than 38 times.
Garner’s lawsuit alleges she did not receive medical care for more than six hours after her arrest.
Supervising officer Sgt. Metzler who arrived at the scene in the middle of this event, approved of the brutality. He later directed that Garner be denied access to medical care for her injuries.
Sgt. Metzler, in violation of Loveland Police’s written policies, kept his own body-worn camera deactivated during the arrest, and failed to later write a report afterwards regarding the use of force.
The Loveland Police Chief Bob Ticer expressed to the Loveland Reporter-Herald that police officials did not learn about Garner’s injuries until the lawsuit was filed. Garner’s federal lawsuit alleges civil rights and ADA violations against the City of Loveland and the three involved officers.
The Department has placed Hopp on administrative leave and reassigned Jalali to administrative duties while it investigates the incident.
Local district attorney Gordon McLaughlin recently announced that his office will be investigating the incident for possible criminal charges.
After Garner’s family hired a sound engineer to enhance the audio of the Loveland Police station’s booking video, officer Hopp and Jalali can be heard laughing at the video and repeatedly fist bumping one another.
In regards to the footage of Garner’s shoulder being dislocated, Hopp can be heard saying “ready for the pop? Here comes the pop.”
As they watch the body camera footage together, Jalali is heard saying “I hate it.”
“I love it,” Hopp responds.
“I can’t believe I threw a 73-year-old on the ground,” Hopp says later in the video.
All charges against Garner were dismissed by the district attorney’s office. Since the arrest, Garner has become withdrawn, depressed, afraid to go outdoors. She has lost most functional use of her left arm and now requires assistance to shower and get dressed.
“These videos cannot be unseen or unheard. I am sorry to have to share them with the public,” said Garner’s attorney Sarah Schielke, in a statement released with the booking video.
“But as it often goes with bad police departments, it seems this is the only way to make them change. They have to be exposed. If I didn’t release this, the Loveland Police’s toxic culture of arrogance and entitlement, along with their horrific abuse of the vulnerable and powerless, would carry on, business as usual,” Schielke said.
“Ms. Garner’s experience with Loveland Police is not about bad apples,” continued Schielke, “It is about culture. And the culture in Loveland is one of lack of care, lack of humility. Loveland Police officers have enrobed themselves with a completely unaccountable authoritarian superiority.
“They demand total obedience and submission from everyone – including the disabled elderly – and if you don’t immediately capitulate, they will make you pay for it. This is not community policing. This is community terrorism,” said Schielke.
“Ms. Garner is one of the most vulnerable members of our community – a mother, a grandmother, a tiny, frail human with cognitive disabilities – and they treated her like an animal. If this is what they’re doing to a terrified elderly lady with dementia, what do you think they’re doing to everyone else?” added Schielke.
Since the filing of the federal lawsuit and the local district attorney’s office’s announcement to pursue criminal charges, the City of Loveland has vowed to protect the “due process” rights of its officers.
To date, the City has yet to extend any apology to Garner or her family.
Mia Machado is a junior at UC Davis, currently majoring in Political Science-Public Service and minoring in Luso-Brazilian studies. She is originally from Berkeley, California
To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9
Support our work – to become a sustaining at $5 – $10- $25 per month hit the link: