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Loveland Settles With Garner Family For $3 Million Following Violent Arrest

Still frame from a body camera video that shows a woman in a gray hoodie lying face-down on the ground, her arms pinned behind her back by the person wearing the camera.
Loveland Police Department
Body camera video recorded the arrest of Karen Garner on June 26, 2020, in Loveland, Colorado. Garner, then 73, has dementia and sensory aphasia.

The City of Loveland announced a $3 million settlement today following the violent arrest of a woman with dementia last June. Loveland police officers arrested and injured Karen Garner, who was 73 at the time, after she tried to leave a Walmart store without paying for a few items.

Despite new legislation allowing police officers in Colorado to be held personally liable at the state level, the officers involved in Garner’s arrest will not pay any portion of the settlement because the original claims were filed in federal court, according to the City of Loveland.

That federal lawsuit details that officers fractured Garner’s arm, dislocated her shoulder and then left her without medical attention for hours following the June arrest. Since then, family members say her dementia has progressed.

“It’s good to know that we can keep her in care and have her cared for, but there needs to be some change in this department,” Allisa Swartz, Garner’s daughter, said during a press conference with the family’s lawyer. “I don’t want to see this happen to anyone else’s family.”

Since the lawsuit was filed and body camera video of the incident became public, the officers involved have resigned; two of them now face criminal charges. The Loveland Police Department is now requiring Alzheimer’s awareness training and a handful are attending additional de-escalation training. The results of a third-party investigation into the department are pending.

Still, serious problems persist. Late last night, 19-year-old Alex Domina died in the hospital after being shot multiple times by a Loveland police officer last month. The teen’s grandmother had told 911 dispatchers that he was damaging the home, that he was in a mental health crisis and to handle him with care. Body camera video shows the responding officer firing as Domina walked towards him with a knife.

Because of these incidents and others, Sarah Schielke, Karen Garner’s lawyer, called on Loveland Police Chief Bob Ticer to resign during the press conference earlier today.

“You want to build back trust? You want to restore faith to the LPD? Resign,” Schielke said. “This community cannot heal until there is accountability from leadership.”

As KUNC's Senior Editor and Reporter, my job is to find out what’s important to northern Colorado residents and why. I seek to create a deeper sense of urgency and understanding around these issues through in-depth, character driven daily reporting and series work.
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