Colorado Officers Involved in 73-Year-Old Woman's Arrest Resign (Alain Lacroix/Dreamstime)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Saturday, 01 May 2021 01:02 PM
Three Loveland, Colorado, police officers who were involved in the arrest of Karen Garner, the 73-year-old woman with dementia who suffered injuries while she was being detained last summer, have resigned from the department, according to officials.
Now-former officers Austin Hopp, Daria Jalali, and community service officer Tyler Blackett are "no longer employed with the Loveland Police Department," Chief Robert Ticer said in a press conference Friday, The Coloradan in Fort Collins reported.
Ticer would not specify if the three had resigned or if they were fired, but a department spokesman later said they quit.
The announcement from Loveland, which is located about 50 miles from Denver, comes after attorney Sarah Schielke filed a civil rights lawsuit on the behalf of Garner and her family, saying the officers used excessive force against her and isolated her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The lawsuit also claims the Loveland Police Department failed to train its officers about how to interact with residents who have disabilities.
Two other officers, Sgt. Philip Metzler and Sgt. Antolina Hill, were also named as defendants in the lawsuit. Metzler, who was at the scene during Garner's arrest and was Hopp's supervisor, has been placed on administrative leave. Hill is still working her regular duty assignment and is accused of knowing about the woman's injuries but not intervening.
"Our goal as the Loveland Police Department is to make our community proud," Ticer said. "We failed, and we are sorry."
He also said he did not know about the claims Garner had been seriously injured during her arrest last June until Schielke filed the federal lawsuit April 14.
Schielke released Hopp's body camera footage, which shows him pushing the older woman to the ground seconds after approaching her after she was accused of leaving a Walmart without having paid for $13.88 in merchandise. Jalali and Metzler are shown arriving shortly after and are seen on video helping Hopp detain Garner. During her arrest, her shoulder was dislocated, her arm was fractured, and her wrist was sprained, the lawsuit points out.
Garner's family said she has both dementia and sensory aphasia, and she has difficulty communicating and understanding others.
Schielke also released a video from the Loveland Police Department that shows Hopp, Jalai, and Blackett laughing about the arrest, with Hopp saying, "I can't believe I threw a 73-year-old woman on the ground."
He also is heard asking Jalai if she heard Garner's arm pop during the arrest.
The attorney also criticized the chief for refusing to resign, according to a news release she released Friday afternoon.
"It is his Loveland Police Department," she said. "He is responsible for what happens in it."
Garner's family also said in the news release they are disappointed by Ticer and his comments and said his statements were only made to protect himself and the department.
"Just like on June 26, 2020, the inhumane treatment of our mother was ignored and his continued support of the department was the focus," the family said. "He said that our mother’s case has 'hurt him personally.' It is clear that the only thing that has 'hurt him personally' has been the attention this case has brought to his department. Not what happened to our mother."
A criminal investigation, led by the Fort Collins Police Services, has been launched by Eighth Judicial District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin, to determine if laws were violated in the rest.
Ticer says his department will also work with the city human resources department and a third-party investigator on an internal affairs investigation.