It took Officer Austin Hopp less than 30 seconds from the moment he stepped out of his squad car to violently pin Karen Garner, a 73-year-old grandmother of nine, to the ground.
That interaction recorded by Hopp’s body camera left Garner with a dislocated shoulder and a fractured arm, her family said. She later spent hours inside a booking cell without receiving any medical care while officers mocked her arrest.
On Wednesday, nearly a year later, Colorado authorities charged both officers with multiple counts in connection with Garner’s arrest, according to affidavits filed in Larimer County District Court. Both officers previously resigned from the department.
Hopp, 26, was charged with using excessive force and purposefully misleading his supervisors. While in custody, Garner told Hopp that she was in pain at least 14 times, prosecutors said, yet he did not provide medical care.
Jalali, 27, was charged with not intervening while Hopp allegedly used unnecessary force, and not reporting Hopp’s conduct.
Sarah Schielke, an attorney representing Garner’s family, said she still wants to see others at the police force face charges.
“We are relieved that some criminal charges were filed at all, however we are deeply concerned that they stopped short of charging either of the involved supervising sergeants,” Schielke told The Washington Post.
Garner’s family also called for further charges.
“The charges seem to end where the videos end, but by Loveland’s own policies, an excessive force case should be escalated up the chain and that process has never been addressed,” Shannon Steward, Garner’s daughter-in-law, told The Post. “We cannot sit by and let it happen again knowing what we know."
Sgt. Phil Metzler, who supervised Hopp and Jalali, remains suspended while the city conducts an independent investigation, police said.
Attorneys representing Hopp and Jalali did not immediately respond to messages from The Post.
On June 26, Garner, who weighs 80 pounds, was strolling back home and picking wildflowers alongside a road. Police had been called after she left a nearby Walmart without paying for items worth $13.88, according to her family’s lawsuit. Walmart said employees called the police after Garner pulled off an employee’s mask during the incident. (The call did not mention Garner being violent with staff members, prosecutors said.)
Body-camera footage shows that Garner — who has dementia and sensory aphasia, a condition that leaves her unable to understand speech or to communicate easily — appeared confused when Hopp demanded that she stop. As he quickly wrenched her arms backward, she repeatedly cried that she was “going home.” She yelled in pain as she fell to the ground, with Hopp and Jalali struggling to detain her.
Prosecutors later dropped all charges against Garner.
Days after the April 14 release of the body-camera footage of Garner’s arrest, her family’s attorney released booking video showing Hopp, Jalali and another officer hunched around a computer as they re-watched the video of the arrest and fist-bumped one another. The officers claimed that the arrest “went great,” while referring to Garner as “ancient” and “senile.”
Meanwhile, Garner sat handcuffed to a bench in a booking cell about 10 feet away from the officers weeping and in pain, her family said. It took six hours before Garner was seen by a doctor, her family’s attorney said.
Colorado’s 8th Judicial District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin announced the charges against Hopp and Jalali at a news conference Wednesday following a joint investigation of the case by his office and the Fort Collins Police Department.
Hopp was charged with assault and attempting to influence a public servant, both felonies, and misconduct, a misdemeanor. Hopp made “substantial omissions” in his interviews about the incident, McLaughlin said, “in an attempt to thwart the investigation of his conduct.”
Jalali was charged with official misconduct and not reporting the use of force by a peace officer, both misdemeanors. Both officers were expected to turn themselves in, McLaughlin said.
“I believe this decision speaks clearly to our community that accountability will be achieved through our independent critical incident response team process and I hope today can be a step toward rebuilding trust between the criminal justice community and the Larimer County community, as well as seeking justice for Ms. Garner’s family,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said there was not sufficient evidence to charge any other officers.
Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer backed up the district attorney’s decision.
“I fully support the charges brought against these two individuals regarding their interactions with Ms. Garner,” Ticer said at a news conference Wednesday. “We understand the desire for accountability and justice and we are seeing that today for Ms. Garner with the charges being filed.”
Ticer said his department will continue to cooperate with criminal investigations of Garner’s case, adding that he has requested a third-party investigation from the city’s human resources department.
Months after her arrest, Garner moved into a memory care facility about 45 minutes away from Loveland, where she used to live in a condo one block away from a daughter’s house. While Garner used to play cards, garden and was “fiercely independent,” she dropped those activities after the arrest, her family said.
“We might not have put her in the facility if we thought that she could walk around Loveland safely," Steward told The Post. “She was walking less than a mile. As soon as it became unsafe, that wasn’t because of Karen’s state of mind. That was because of the treatment of the Loveland Police because she had been walking freely, that was part of her routine and we had a tracker on her phone.”
Steward added, “It’s been incredibly difficult because she just doesn’t recognize us anymore and she doesn’t want to be touched. The PTSD has affected her. We don’t want her to be remembered as this."
Hopp and Jalali were arrested Thursday morning.
Police reform in America
Repeated police misconduct: More than $1.5 billion has been spent to settle claims of police misconduct involving thousands of officers repeatedly accused of wrongdoing. Taxpayers are often in the dark.
Listen: “Broken Doors” is a six-part investigative podcast about how no-knock warrants are deployed in the American justice system — and what happens when accountability is flawed at every level.
Fatal Force: Since 2015, The Washington Post has logged every fatal shooting by an on-duty police officer in the United States. View our police shooting database.
Fired/Rehired: Police departments have had to take back hundreds of officers who were fired for misconduct and then rehired after arbitration.
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