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Colorado City Agrees To Pay $3 Million After Violent Arrest of Elderly Woman With Dementia

Karen Garner suffered multiple injuries after being aggressively restrained by a Loveland, Colorado police officer. Officers were later seen on body cam video mocking her condition.

By Constance Johnson
Karen Garner Ap

It all started last year with the violent arrest of a slight, 80-pound elderly woman with dementia trying to leaving a Walmart in Loveland, Colorado with $13.88 in unpaid merchandise. Now, the city has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a civil lawsuit she brought after sustaining injuries at the hands of police officers. 

While the family of 74-year-old Karen Garner and her attorneys announced the settlement with the Loveland and five police officers, she was in her bed at a memory care facility in Golden, Colorado, unaware of what was taking place 45 miles away, The Washington Post reported.

She was so tired that she told caretaker that she would skip lunch, the paper reported.

Garner’s family attorney released video of the June 2020 incident, which sparked public outrage and an independent investigation of the Loveland Police Department. Garner sustained multiple injuries as the responding officer, identified as Austin Hopp, aggressively restrained her, according to USA Today.

Attorney Sarah Schielk also released a one-hour cell booking video showing Loveland Police Department officers celebrating and mocking the arrest, as Garner sat crying handcuffed to a bench. Garner’s family told the Washington Post that the officers ignored her injuries and provided no medical attention. At one point they could be heard in the video saying “We crushed it.” They congratulated each other with fist-bumps and referred to Garner as “ancient,” “senile,” and “flexible.”

Loveland City Manager Steve Adams apologized to Garner and her family in a statement. 

“The settlement with Karen Garner will help bring some closure to an unfortunate event in our community but does not upend the work with have left to do,” he said. “We know we did not act in a manner that upholds the values, integrity, and policies of the City and police department and we are taking the necessary steps to make sure these actions are never repeated”

Garner’s daughter, Allisa Swartz, says the settlement money will be used to pay for her mother’s care. Garner was diagnosed with post-traumatic disorder after the incident, according to the Post.

“She has her good days and bad days,” Swartz said during the press conference announcing the settlement.

“It’s good to know that we can keep her in care and have her cared for, but there needs to be some change in this [police] department. I don’t want to see this happening to anyone else’s family again,” she later added, according to the Washington Post.

While the civil lawsuit is settled, Hopp and and fellow former officer Daria Jalai still face criminal charges in the case. Hopp, 26, has been charged with assault causing serious bodily injury, official misconduct and attempt to influence a public servant, Oxygen.com previously reported. Jalali, 27, who was also present at the scene of the arrest, was charged with failure to report use of force, failure to intervene and official misconduct.

Both officers resigned from the department.

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