Karen Garner (pictured in a photo taken several years ago) is 5 feet tall and weighs 80 pounds and has dementia
Prosecutors are launching a criminal investigation into an incident in which a Colorado agent was caught on video pushing a 73-year-old woman with dementia to the ground and breaking her arm.
The announcement of the investigation comes after Loveland police suspended the arresting officer, Austin Hopp, 26, last week in the wake of the disturbing video. Two other officers involved in the arrest were given desk duties.
The video was released last week after a lawyer representing Karen Garner, the woman who weighs 80 pounds and suffers from dementia, filed a federal lawsuit for civil rights violations during the arrest, which took place last summer.
Her family says police broke her arm, dislocated her shoulder, and covered her body with bruises.
Colorado county district attorney of Larimer and Jackson Gordon McLaughlin said he was unaware of the incident until the video was released last week. After outrage from the community, he said On Monday, he would open a criminal investigation against Loveland police.
Prosecutors could indict the officers involved in the incident, including along with Hopp officer Daria Jalali and field supervising Sergeant Phil Metzler.
Scroll down for video
Garner, 73, was picking flowers on the side of a road on June 26, 2020, when she was arrested for leaving a Walmart without paying for a bar, a can of Pepsi and a t-shirt totaling $ 13.38
Garner’s arms are put behind her back during an arrest that her lawyer says has violated her civil rights
If they fail to sue the prosecutors, prosecutors must release a letter after investigating the incident explaining their reason for not filing charges, according to the Denver Post
The district attorney’s investigation will be conducted by the Fort Collins Police Department and will be assisted as needed by the district attorney’s office, the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI.
Before her violent arrest, Garner was picking flowers by the side of a road last June.
She walked home from a nearby Walmart, where employees found she wasn’t paying for a bar, a can of Pepsi, and a T-shirt totaling $ 13.38.
The prosecutor’s office had said last week that it would review information on the case – which civil rights lawyers said would have injured Karen Garner – and decide whether a criminal investigation would be necessary.
Garner’s children called the move a “small but too late step in the right direction.”
“It is clear that the newly elected prosecutor understands what we suspected last summer – that only an independent outside investigation, with all the world’s attention, will reveal the truth,” they said in a statement.
The Loveland department is conducting its own evaluation of the incident.
Last June, store employees had stopped Garner from the exit of the Walmart and picked up the items she hadn’t paid for, according to a lawsuit filed against agents last week.
Store employees said it had not suffered a loss from the incident.
But, the lawsuit says, someone from Walmart called the police to report Garner and the direction she was heading.
The cop, Hopp, 26, caught up with her later. Garner appeared visibly confused in camera footage of the body, repeatedly telling the officer that she was just going home.
Officer Daria Jalali is photographed during Karen Garner’s arrest
Garner was placed against the officers’ police car as she continued to wail “I’m going home!”
Garner seemed visibly confused during the arrest
At one point in the footage, which civil rights attorney Sarah Schielke made public when she filed suit against Hopp on April 14, Hopp tells Garner, “Ma’am, I don’t think you want to play it this way.”
“You just left Walmart. Should you be arrested now? ‘
Within minutes, however, Hopp is seen dragging Garner – who is five feet tall and weighs 80 pounds – to the ground screaming ‘I’m going home’.
Garner is then seen being pushed against the police’s police car while continuing to wail, “I’m going home!”
‘Stop it!’ Assisting officer Daria Jalali can be heard commander as she pulls Garner’s arm behind her back.
At that moment, a crackling sound can be heard on the bodycam footage and Garner screams in pain.
Another part of the video shows a driver stopping to inquire about the arrest.
“Do you have to use that much aggression?” the passer-by asks the police.
‘Go away! These are none of your business! ‘ Agent Hopp replies.
Shortly afterwards, a third officer arrives on the scene and asks, “Are you all going well?”
“A little muddy, a little bloody, that’s how it works!” Agent Jalali before confirming it was Garner’s blood.
Garner was taken into custody, where she was reportedly held for hours without medical assistance, despite insisting that she was in pain.
A photo of Garner’s badly bruised arm can be seen above
Photos taken in the aftermath of the arrest show Garner with a badly bruised and swollen arm. She also got a nosebleed
Photos taken in the wake of the arrest show elderly Garner with a badly bruised and swollen arm. She also got a nosebleed.
According to the lawsuit, no one sought medical attention for Garner about six hours after she was arrested.
“It’s a hard video to watch,” attorney Schielke told the Reporter-Herald.
‘It’s the opposite of community policing. I have thought a lot about this case as I have prepared it, and on paper and in legal pleadings it is a case of excessive force. When you watch the video, you can actually see that this is a torture case. ‘
Body cameras show police officers forcing Garner to the ground and injuring her arm
She was placed in police custody, where, her lawyer said, she received no medical attention
Agent Hopp is seen dragging Garner to the ground, screaming for her to go home
The lawsuit alleges that the arrest violated her constitutional protections from excessive force and due process, and also violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The civil suit is separate from the prosecutor’s investigation, which could potentially involve criminal prosecution.
According to the lawsuit, forgetting to pay for items in stores is common among people with dementia.
It also said Garner suffers from sensory aphasia, which impairs her ability to communicate and understand what other people are saying.
In addition to her physical injuries, the lawsuit alleges that Garner now experiences fear, trauma, and anxiety when she leaves her home.
“ The little freedom and happiness Ms. Garner enjoyed in her life as an elderly adult with declining mental health was recklessly and deliberately obliterated by Loveland police on June 26, 2020, ” it said.
Hopp is currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, while Jalali and Supervising Sergeant Phil Metzler are assigned to administrative duties.