LOVELAND, Colo. — Two former Loveland police officers now face criminal charges for the June 2020 arrest of a then-73-year-old woman with dementia that has drawn national attention since a video of the incident was released last month.
District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin announced charges against Austin Hopp and Daria Jalali on Wednesday afternoon. Both former officers were directly involved in the arrest of Karen Garner, who suffered a broken arm and dislocated shoulder after she was accused of taking $14 worth of items from a Walmart.
“I feel like … the lack of empathy and the action of the officers that were involved … it wasn’t just only affecting my mom and my family, it was also affecting the whole city of Loveland," Garner's daughter Allisa Swartz said during a tearful news conference on Wednesday afternoon where she, her sister-in-law and the family's attorney reacted to McLaughlin's charging decision.
Watch the full news conference below:
Online court records show that Hopp faces charges of:
- Second-degree assault causing serious bodily injury
- Attempt to influence a public servant
- Official misconduct
Thursday, Hopp's bond was set at $20,000. The conditions of the bond state that Hopp cannot work in any law enforcement capacity, cannot break any laws, cannot possess any weapons, cannot have any contact with the victim and must stay at least 100 yards away from her, her home and any place she is likely to go.
Before leaving the state, Hopp must also issue a waiver of extradition and update all contact information with the court.
Court records also show that former officer Jalali faces the following charges:
- Peace officer: Failure to report use of force
- Peace officer: Failure to intervene
- Official misconduct
"I fully support these charges," said Loveland Police Chief Bob Ticer in a late afternoon briefing. "We accept and understand the DA's decision to pursue criminal charges against these individuals."
Jalali was charged under a new law passed last year as part of a police accountability bill.
The 8th Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) was tasked with looking into the conduct of the officers involved in Garner's arrest last year and that investigation is now complete. It was led by Fort Collins Police Services and last week the agency presented its nearly 700-page report to the District Attorney's Office.
The DA discussed the investigation on Wednesday:
Footage of Garner's arrest was released by attorney Sarah Schielke, who filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Garner last month.
The lawsuit alleges that Garner was forcibly pushed to the ground and that during the arrest she suffered multiple injuries including a broken arm and dislocated shoulder.
> 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.)
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.
"My understanding is a member of the district attorney's office had watched the video as part of their review and eventual dismissal [of the charges]," McLaughlin said. "I have made it very clear to members of my office, attorneys, and otherwise, that I will not stand for someone looking the other way on evidence such as that."
According to the arrest affidavit in the case, while she 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.
The affidavit says a nurse at the Larimer County Detention Center said she could immediately tell that she had been injured.
In a report outlining his use of force, the affidavit says Hopp blamed Garner's injuries on "the length of her struggle against officers as well as her continuously trying to escape her restraints in booking."
Read his full report according to the affidavit below:
Footage of Garner's arrest was released publicly as part of the lawsuit on April 15. That's when McLaughlin, who took office in January of this year, said he first became aware of the incident.
"The next day on April 16, I had the opportunity to review videos in this case and was immediately concerned with what I saw," McLaughlin said.
He said the very next day, he asked that the CIRT be activated to independently investigate what happened.
Two weeks after the video was released, Hopp and Jalali resigned. Community Service officer Tyler Blackett also resigned. In the affidavit, Blackett is accused of watching Hopp's body camera footage of Garner's arrest, as well as not providing her medical care while in custody.
All three of them were initially put on administrative leave along with Sgt. Phil Metzler. He remains with the department, but is still on leave.
"We looked at absolutely everyone involved in this case," McLaughlin said. "At this time we do not believe that evidence supports criminal charges against the other folks involved."
He said he understands that community members might view the conduct of some of those people as questionable, but said their obligation is to determine if the actions rise to the level of "criminal culpability."
Schielke said Wednesday she and Garner's family were left with more “questions than answers, and more concern than relief" following the charging decision. The attorney called for more charges in the case, as well as Ticer's resignation.
Ticer said in addition to the criminal investigation there will be a third-party investigation into the incident and the department's response to it. He said it will look at how and why it took so long for him to become aware of the incident. He said he was first notified about it when the body camera footage was made public and admitted it might never have come to light if not for that lawsuit.
The city's human resources department will select the team to carry out that investigation, according to Ticer. Metzler will remain on leave until the outcome of that investigation.
Watch the chief's full comments below:
Ticer outlined actions that have been taken by the department since the incident came to light. They include:
- A majority of our police officers have undergone Alzheimer’s awareness training
- Additional de-escalation training will be required beginning next week
- An Assistant City Attorney now sits within police headquarters to help review all use of force cases dating back to 2019, as well as all use of force cases moving forward
- All officers will continue to undergo extensive Crisis Intervention Training,
Shannon Steward, said Garner -- her mother-in-law, hasn't smiled since her arrest, and that her dementia has progressed.
“The charges can’t stop with Hopp and Jelali, they need to continue," she said.
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