Colo. Officers Appear to Mock Woman with Dementia While Watching Tape of Her Violent Arrest

A lawsuit alleges Karen Garner remained in a jail cell, with a broken and dislocated shoulder, for six hours

Arrest of Karen Garner
The arrest of Karen Garner. Photo: Released by Life and Liberty Law Firm

The family of a 73-year-old Colorado woman who suffers from dementia has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the three police officers involved in her June 26, 2020, arrest "violently assaulted" her while violating her civil rights as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Sarah Schielke, the lawyer representing Karen Garner, provided PEOPLE with a copy of the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified compensatory, consequential and punitive damages against Loveland, Colo., and three of the city's officers.

Garner was detained by Loveland Police after store employees saw her walking out of a Walmart with $13 worth of items she hadn't paid for.

Body camera footage of the arrest, released on Monday, shows multiple officers taking the confused woman into custody.

The first officer who arrived on scene allegedly grabbed Garner as she was walking away from him. As she was wrestled to the ground, Garner said, "I'm going home" — a phrase she repeated 38 times during her detention.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, alleges officers used excessive force during the arrest, dislocating and fracturing her shoulder as they twisted her into submission. She also sustained contusions and a bloody nose.

Surveillance footage from inside the Loveland police station was also obtained by Schielke, who had sound engineers enhance the video's audio.

The video, which contains subtitles PEOPLE has not independently verified, allegedly shows Officer Austin Hopp, Officer Daria Jalali, and Community Service Officer Tyler Blackett — all named in the suit — reviewing and commenting on Hopp's body cam footage.

Arrest of Karen Garner
The arrest of Karen Garner. Released by Life and Liberty Law Firm

With an injured, sobbing Garner handcuffed to a bench in a jail cell a mere 10 feet away from them, the three officers watched Hopp's body camera video back at the station house, they allegedly were "joking about the excessive force" and laughing about injuring her, according to the lawsuit.

The footage allegedly also shows them watching film of themselves intimidating a private citizen who stopped to complain while witnessing the arrest — and then allegedly "fist-bumping" to celebrate that they had done so, states the lawsuit.

At one point, Hopp allegedly prepares the other two officers watching for the moment Garner's shoulder's dislocated, saying, "Ready for the pop? Here comes the pop."

As Jalali covers her eyes, upset by the footage, she repeats, "I hate it." Hopp allegedly replies, "I love it."

Garner remained in the cell, her injuries untreated, for six hours, the suit alleges.

The case against Garner has been dropped, and she faces no criminal charges.

County officials have launched an investigation into the allegations of excessive force outlined in the lawsuit.

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"This is utterly disgusting," Schielke says in the press release. "These videos cannot be unseen or unheard. I am sorry to have to share them with the public. This will be traumatic and deeply upsetting for everyone to see. But as it often goes with bad police departments, it seems this is the only way to make them change. They have to be exposed."

She added that the Loveland Police Department "failed Karen Garner. They failed the community. And they did it all on camera."

A call to the department seeking comment was not returned by press time.

The Loveland Police Department has placed Hopp on administrative leave, reports The Denver Post.

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