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Larimer DA announces independent investigation after forcible arrest of 73-year-old woman

Karen Garner suffered a dislocated shoulder, a broken humerus and a sprained wrist during the June 2020 arrest by Loveland Police.

LOVELAND, Colo. — The Larimer County District Attorney on Monday announced an independent investigation of the forcible arrest by Loveland Police (LPD) of a 73-year-old woman in 2020. 

Karen Garner was arrested last summer by LPD after allegedly shoplifting $14 worth of soda and laundry detergent from a Walmart in Loveland, according to a recent lawsuit filed by Garner's lawyer. 

LPD body camera footage shows while Garner was walking home, the officers forced her to the ground and handcuffed her behind her back, before bringing her to jail.

RELATED: Loveland police promise investigation after video shows elderly woman forced to the ground by officers

Garner's lawyer, Sarah Schielke, said Garner suffers from dementia and likely forgot that she hadn't paid for the items. Schielke also said the officers dislocated Garner's shoulder and broke a bone in her arm.

"This case was always going to have to have an outside, independent investigation that will come back full circle on all the leadership that was involved in permitting something like this to occur," said Schielke. 

The Larimer DA's office said its call for an independent investigation came after a recent review of the incident.

The investigation will be led by Fort Collins Police, with help, as needed, from the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI. 

In a written statement, Garner's three children said, "this is a small, but long overdue, step in the right direction."

> Watch video above: Lawsuit filed against Loveland police for alleged excessive force

According to LPD, the incident took place on June 26, 2020. 

Since learning of the lawsuit and allegations in it late Wednesday, LPD said they'd begun an investigation that will include "an examination of all images, documents and records" compiled in connection with the incident.

According to the lawsuit filed by Garner's lawyers, she spent two hours inside a LPD jail cell and an additional three hours inside a cell at the Larimer County Jail.

Schielke, said the arresting officers told the Larimer County jail staff that Garner was uninjured despite obvious signs that she had painful injuries.

Garner, according to Schielke, is 5 feet tall and weighs 80 pounds.

The lawsuit says Garner left the Walmart with a Pepsi, a candy bar, a T-shirt and some Shout Wipe refills.

“Walmart employees stopped her and escorted her back inside, where they took the items back. Ms. Garner attempted to hand them her credit card to pay, but they refused,” the lawsuit reads. 

“Ms. Garner, unable to communicate with them or fully grasp what was going on, then walked out of the store and began walking the short distance back to her home,” it says.

A statement from a Walmart spokesperson says Garner escalated the situation, forcing employees to call police. 

"Circumstance vary, but stores have discretion to call law enforcement when they have need," the statement says. "When we addressed this issue with the customer she became unreasonable and escalated the situation by ripping the facemask off one of our associates and fleeing the store."

The arrest happened not long after.

> Below: Body camera footage shows the arrest of the 73-year-old. This footage has been edited by the law firm representing Garner. (Warning: The content in this video is graphic and may be disturbing to some viewers.) 

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