Three Colorado police officers no longer employed after arrest of 73-year-old woman with dementia

Three Colorado police officers no longer employed after arrest of 73-year-old woman with dementia

30 Apr    Finance News

Three Loveland, Colorado, police officers are no longer employed with the department after their involvement in the arrest and booking of a 73-year-old woman with dementia.

Karen Garner suffered a dislocated shoulder, fractured arm and sprained wrist after she was slammed to the ground and hogtied during a June 26 arrest, according to a federal lawsuit.

The altercation was captured on police body camera video and shared by Garner’s attorney, Sarah Schielke.

Officers Austin Hopp, Tyler Blackett and Daria Jalali were placed on administrative leave over the incident, along with Sgt. Phillip Metzler. Another sergeant, Antolina Hill, was reassigned.

Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer said at a news conference Friday that Hopp, Blackett and Jalali “are no longer employed” with the department but declined to specify whether they resigned or were terminated.

It’s unclear why Metzler and Hill were not among those no longer with the department.

“They were not fired. They resigned,” Garner’s attorney, Schielke said in a statement later Friday. She said it was “unacceptable” that Metzler and Hill remain with the department.

The officers did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

Schielke said Garner was walking home when she was stopped by Hopp on suspicion of stealing $13.88 worth of items from a Walmart. Garner has dementia and sensory aphasia, which impairs her ability to verbally communicate with people or understand others’ communications.

Schielke said because of the dementia, Garner forgot to pay for the items, which were retrieved by Walmart employees.

The body camera video shows Hopp ask Garner to stop. She shrugs her shoulders and keeps walking. Hopp responds by roughly taking Garner to the ground, handcuffing her and then forcing Garner to her feet.

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Jalali then arrives on scene. The video shows both officers struggling with Garner. Hopp tells Jalali to help him get Garner on the ground and then he hogties her and forces her into the back of a police car.

Schielke said her client did not stop when Hopp asked because she did not understand him. The lawsuit says that Garner “was bleeding from the nose, forehead, and wrist, all over herself.”

Metzler arrived after Garner was in the vehicle. The video shows him commenting on how muddy the officers are.

“A little bloody. A little muddy. That’s how it works,” Jalali says. Hopp tells the sergeant the blood is Garner’s.

Blackett was not involved in Garner’s arrest but assisted with booking her at the jail. An amended complaint says that Hill came into the booking area and saw that Garner was injured but did not get her medical care.

Earlier this week, Schielke released a second video that shows three Loveland officers laughing about Garner’s arrest.

The footage came from a camera inside the Loveland Police Department and includes subtitles that haven’t been verified by NBC News.

Hopp is seen in that video saying the arrest went “great” and commenting about the moment he dislocated Garner’s shoulder.

“Ready for the pop?” he asks. “Hear the pop?”

Ticer said it “hurt” to see the video of Garner’s arrest. The chief said the video of officers laughing about it does not represent the department.

“That is not the Loveland Police Department,” he said. “The Loveland Police Department is comprised of men and women that are out there taking calls for service right now, that are working very hard and honoring the community and servicing with integrity and value and being trustworthy.”

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The arrest sparked a criminal investigation led by District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin and the Fort Collins Police Services.

McLaughlin said in the statement that he will consider the officers’ comments about the arrest, along with other evidence, in making his charging decision.

Garner’s family in a statement through their attorney said Ticer’s comments Friday were “endeavoring to protect only himself and the reputation of the LPD.”

“He said that our mother’s case has ‘hurt him personally,'” the family statement said. “It is clear that the only thing that has ‘hurt him personally’ has been the attention this case has brought to his department. Not what happened to our mother. We are disappointed.”

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