Three Colorado police officers involved in the rough arrest of Karen Garner, a 73 years-old woman with dementia, last year and later seen laughing and joking about the incident, have resigned, police said on Friday, April 30.
Officers Austin Hopp and Daria Jalali of Loveland, and Community Services Officer Tyler Blackett, have stepped down in the wake of Garner’s arrest in June 2020, according to Police Chief Robert Ticer.
Before Garner’s unfortunate incident led to anxiety and anger in the community, Ticer apologized.
“Our goal at the Loveland Police Department has always been to make our community proud. We failed and we are very sorry for that,” he said.
Garner’s violent arrest not only landed her in the hospital but also exacerbated her dementia symptoms.
Garner suffered severe bruising. The officers fractured her arm and dislocated her shoulder during the arrest. While she was held in the booking cell, she got no medical attention.
In June 2020, Hopp arrested Garner after she left Walmart without paying for about $14 worth of items. Before, Walmart employees made Garner to leave the merchandise at the store. Garner’s family said they believed Garner forgot to pay for the items and was confused.
According to a body camera video of the interaction, Hopp spotted Garner walking home on a nearby road and took her to the ground within 30 seconds of contacting her after she declined to stop walking. She shrugged and turned away from him and he quickly grabbed her arm and pushed her 80-pound body to the ground.
He then handcuffed her, slammed her against his police car, and restrained her feet with a hobble.
Also, the cops were seen laughing and joking about roughing up Garner while she sat handcuffed to a bench in a nearby cell, the Denver Post reported.
An officer identified by Garner’s lawyer as Hopp said to other officers while re-watching the footage together. “Ready for the pop?
“What popped?” another officer asked.
“I think it was her shoulder,” Hopp responded.
Hopp can also be heard saying, “I can’t believe I threw a 73-year-old on the field,” in the video from the booking area.
Jalali began repeating “I hate this” after watching the arrest video for several minutes, to which Hopp responded, “This is great, and “I love this.”
The cavalier manner in which the officers discussed breaking the tiny Garner’s arm in the video of the police lobby sickened the family, her daughter-in-law Shannon Steward said.
Garner’s attorney, Sarah Schielke, said the video of the officers laughing about the incident was disgusting. She recommended that the rest of the family not watch it.
The body camera video, which was released on April 14 after Garner’s family filed a federal lawsuit, has brought the case to national attention.
In reaction to the complaint, the department reported that Hopp, the arresting officer, would be placed on administrative leave. Jalali, who arrived to assist Hopp shortly after Garner was handcuffed, and Blackett, who assisted in transporting Garner to the police station, as well as a supervisory sergeant who stopped by the arrest scene, were all placed on leave later.
Schielke and Garner’s family said the department had a toxic culture and thought Ticer should have also stepped down to take responsibility for it.
“It’s this attitude of arrogance and entitlement, and frivolity took in the use of force on its citizens and complete disregard for the people they’re policing,” she said.
On the other hand, Schielke argued the police department’s longstanding environment led to such an incident.