Laughing Cops Charged for Violent Arrest of Woman With Dementia

·3 min read
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Two former Colorado police officers face charges after they violently arrested a 73-year-old woman with dementia last summer—and then laughed while watching gruesome body-cam footage of the incident back at the police station.

Ex-Loveland Police officer Austin Hopp, 26, has been charged with second-degree assault causing serious bodily injury, attempting to influence a public servant, and official misconduct in relation to the June 26, 2020, arrest of Karen Garner, who was tackled and handcuffed for leaving a Walmart with unpaid goods.

The other cop who assisted in Garner’s arrest, 27-year-old Daria Jalali, was charged with failure to report the use of force by a peace officer, failure to intervene, and first-degree official misconduct, according to online court records.

Surveillance footage released last month revealed that after the arrest—in which Hopp tackled Garner to the ground and handcuffed her against his cruiser—the officers went back to the station and watched their body-cam footage of the incident as Garner sat in a cell for hours.

“Ready for the pop?” Hopp said to Jalali and other officers as they gathered to watch. “What popped?” another officer asked.

“I think it was her shoulder,” Hopp replied, before later adding: “I can’t believe I threw a 73-year-old on the ground.”

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While warrants have been issued for both officers, it was not immediately clear if they were in custody as of Wednesday morning. The charges come after the 8th Judicial District Critical Response Team completed a review of the arrest, which elicited national attention. Gordan McLaughlin, the 8th Judicial district attorney, is expected to hold a press conference about the results of the review.

In April, Garner filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the officers who arrested her, claiming they broke her arm and dislocated her shoulder during an excessively violent assault.

According to the lawsuit, the incident began after Garner left a Walmart without paying for $13 worth of items. While store employees had stopped her at the exit and retrieved the items, they “refused to let her pay” and she began to walk home. Hopp, however, caught up to Garner to arrest her, calling out for her to stop.

When she indicated she could not understand him—which is a common side effect of dementia and sensory aphasia—Hopp “violently assaulted her by twisting her arms behind her back, throwing her to the ground and handcuffing her” while Jalali assisted, the lawsuit alleges.

“In their efforts to repeatedly and needlessly injure and subdue the terrified Ms. Garner, Officers Hopp and Jalali fractured and dislocated her shoulder in addition to other injuries (scrapes to face, bloody nose, contusions to knees),” the lawsuit states, adding that a concerned citizen even stopped to question the officers’ “aggression” during the arrest.

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“Despite the visible dislocation of her arm from her shoulder, and her repeated cries of pain while on scene and in the several hours she remained in their care and control that followed, neither the defendant officers nor anyone else at the Loveland Police Department sought medical care for Ms. Garner—instead keeping her in extreme pain, in handcuffs, and actively preventing her from access to medical treatment for over six hours,” the suit added.

The surveillance footage from the police station showed that the officers were seemingly too preoccupied reliving the assault to help Garner.

“It’s like live TV... Body-cams are my favorite thing to watch, I could watch livestream body-cams all day,” Jalali said in the footage.

Jalali and Hopp resigned from the Loveland Police Department on April 30 amid an internal investigation. Another officer who was seen watching the footage at the police station also resigned.

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