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Officers Face Criminal Charges Over Arrest Of Loveland Woman With Dementia

Karen Garner was arrested by Loveland police officers last summer after trying to leave a Walmart store without paying for $14 of items.
Loveland Police Department
Karen Garner was arrested by Loveland police officers last summer after trying to leave a Walmart store without paying for $14 of items.

Updated at 5:13 p.m.

Following the violent arrest of an elderly woman with dementia last summer, two former officers with the Loveland Police Department are now facing criminal charges.

Prosecutors filed charges on Wednesday, after Fort Collins Police and the Eighth Judicial District wrapped up a criminal investigation into the officers' conduct.

The first officer involved in the arrest of Karen Garner, Austin Hopp, faces charges of second-degree assault of an at-risk person, attempt to influence a public servant in how he reported the incident and official misconduct. The second officer who arrived on the scene, Daria Jalali, was charged with failing to report excessive use of force, failure to intervene and official misconduct.

“I will say that while peace officers are permitted to use reasonable force to effect an arrest, the investigation in this case showed that Austin Hopp used excessive force in the arrest of Karen Garner that resulted in serious bodily injury,” Eighth Judicial District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin said during a press conference today when he announced the charges.

Last June, 73-year old Karen Garner had tried to leave a local Walmart store without paying for $14 worth of items. According to her lawyers, officers dislocated and fractured her shoulder during the arrest.

“I hope today can be a step towards rebuilding trust between the criminal justice community and the Larimer County community as well as seeking justice for Ms. Garner’s family,” McLaughlin said.

During a press conference at Loveland Police headquarters a few hours later, Chief Bob Ticer said that he has requested an independent third-party internal affairs investigation and that the majority of officers have completed Alzheimer’s awareness training. Additional de-escalation training will begin next month.

“I fully support these charges. I’ll say it again: I fully support these charges. We accept and understand the district attorney’s decision to pursue criminal charges against these individuals and we will continue to cooperate with this investigation,” Ticer said.

Arrest warrants have been issued for the officers, both of whom resigned from the Loveland Police Department last month after Karen Garner filed a federal lawsuit against them.

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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