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'An abysmal failure': Former officer gets 45 days in jail in Karen Garner case

Daria Jalali is the first officer to be convicted under the state's failure to intervene law.

LOVELAND, Colo. — A Larimer County judge said there was an "abysmal failure of the duty to protect and serve" as he sentenced a former Loveland officer to 45 days in jail for her role in the 2020 arrest of Karen Garner, an elderly woman with dementia.

"You were in no danger from this woman," said Judge Joshua Lehman during a hearing Friday morning. "Yet she was treated like someone who was a serious danger to you."

Daria Jalali, who was among the first charged with failing to intervene under a new Colorado law, will get credit for 2 days already served and was remanded into custody Friday to begin serving the remaining 43 days. Following her release, she'll serve 36 months of probation.

Lehman also ordered her to undergo a mental health evaluation and complete 250 hours of community service.

Jalali pleaded guilty to a single count of failure to intervene in Larimer County District Court in June.

She originally faced the following charges:

  • Peace officer: Failure to report use of force
  • Peace officer: Failure to intervene
  • Official misconduct

The misconduct charge and the failure to report use of force charge were both dismissed as part of the plea deal, according to court records.

Credit: KUSA

During sentencing, Lehman said officers must have the ability to stand up to their fellow officers and said that need was "painfully obvious" in this case where a "delicate" woman was being arrested.

Jalali was involved in the June 2020 arrest of Garner and was accused of failing to report excessive by fellow officer Austin Hopp, who's already been sentenced for his role in the case.

"This is a lost woman who is afraid and frightened," said Lehman. "The fact that two law enforcement officers could not comprehend that is incomprehensible to me."

Credit: LCSO
Former Loveland police officer Daria Jalali

Garner's children said they were pleased with the sentence and hoped it would send a message.

"We wish the Loveland Police will really take this seriously and they would use this case to justify cleaning it up," said John Steward, Karen Garner's son. 

An attorney released footage of Garner's June 26, 2020 arrest in April of last year as part of a federal civil rights lawsuit. It alleges that Garner was forcibly pushed to the ground and that during the arrest she suffered multiple injuries. Those injuries included a dislocated shoulder, a broken humerus and a sprained wrist. 

Jalali and Hopp were charged in May 2021, almost a year after the arrest of Garner, who was 73 when the incident took place. 

Garner was arrested while walking home along Mountain Lion Road. She had just come from a nearby Walmart where she attempted to leave without paying for about $14 worth of items, the lawsuit says. The 8th Judicial District Attorney's Office said that Garner's misdemeanor case was dismissed.

According to the arrest affidavit in the case, while Garner was in custody, Hopp told Jalali, "I thought I broke [Garner's] shoulder, did you hear it pop?"

Neither officer offered Garner medical care, despite the fact she repeatedly said her shoulder hurt, according to the affidavit. 

Hopp, Jalali and community service officer Tyler Blackett resigned after the incident came to light. 

Sgt. Phil Metzler, who also responded to the scene of Garner's arrest, remained with the department until September of last year. He resigned after a video was made public that appeared to show him dismissing excessive force concerns made to him by a man who witnessed Garner's arrest.

Credit: LCSO
Former Loveland police officer Austin Hopp

Hopp was initially charged with three counts, including assault, but pleaded guilty to a single charge of second-degree assault, a class four felony, on March 2. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

RELATED: Former Loveland cop sentenced to 5 years in assault of Karen Garner

Garner's family settled their civil lawsuit against the city in September of last year for $3 million. At the time they said the funds would help pay for 24/7 care of Garner as her health declined.

RELATED: 'There needs to be change': Karen Garner's family says $3 million settlement is only a start

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