Outside the courthouse in Loveland, about an hour north, Garner’s family and her attorney were in the midst of announcing a major development in their lawsuit against the city and five police officers: They had reached a $3 million settlement.
The announcement of the multimillion-dollar agreement comes less than five months after Sarah Schielke, the attorney representing Garner’s family, released body-camera footage of the arrest. The video sparked public outcry and prompted the city to open an independent investigation.
Schielke also released a booking cell video showing Loveland Police Department officers celebrating and mocking the arrest while Garner sat in a cell without receiving medical attention for her injuries, the family said. Colorado authorities charged two officers involved in Garner’s arrest following the release of the booking cell video. Both officers had previously resigned from the department.
The city publicly apologized to Garner and her family for “what they have endured as a result of this arrest,” Loveland City Manager Steve Adams said in a statement.
“The settlement with Karen Garner will help bring some closure to an unfortunate event in our community but does not upend the work we have left to do,” Adams said. "We know we did not act in a manner that upholds the values, integrity, and policies of the City and police department, and we are taking the necessary steps to make sure these actions are never repeated.”
Allisa Swartz, Garner’s daughter, said the settlement funds will be used to care for her mother, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following the incident.
“She has good days and bad days,” Swartz told reporters through tears at the news conference.
She added: “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 [police] department. I don’t want to see this happening to anyone else’s families again.”
Once finalized, the settlement will end Garner’s pending federal lawsuit, but the agreement does not preclude the two former officers who participated in the arrest from facing criminal charges, city officials said.
On June 26, 2020, a Walmart employee called police to report that Garner had walked out of the store without paying for nearly $14 worth of items, according to the lawsuit. The worker said Garner had pulled off an employee’s mask during the incident.
Garner, who weighs 80 pounds, was walking home and picking wildflowers alongside the road when body-camera footage shows that Garner — who has sensory aphasia, a condition that leaves her unable to understand speech or to communicate easily — appeared confused and frightened when an officer demanded that she stop.
“I’m going home,” she pleaded, while still clutching the flowers as the officer grabbed her by her arms and wrenched them backward to handcuff her, body-camera footage shows. At one point, Garner fell to the ground as officers struggled with her before putting her in a cruiser. The interaction, Garner’s family said, left her with a fractured arm, a dislocated shoulder and multiple bruises.
Later that day, the booking cell video shows, two officers sat hunched around a computer as they re-watched video of the arrest before fist-bumping each other. Later, another officer joined them as the trio praised and mocked the arrest. “We crushed it,” one of the officers said.
Meanwhile, Garner sat feet away from the officers, handcuffed to a bench. For hours, the family alleged in the lawsuit, Garner sat inside the booking cell weeping in pain without receiving medical attention.
On Wednesday, Loveland Police Chief Bob Ticer said what happened to Garner is inexcusable, adding that the department is revising several policies to prevent similar incidents in the future.
“There is no excuse, under any circumstances, for what happened to Ms. Garner,” Ticer said in a statement. “We have agreed on steps we need to take to begin building back trust. While these actions won’t change what Ms. Garner experienced, they will serve to improve this police department and hopefully restore faith that the LPD exists to serve those who live in and visit Loveland.”
Schielke, Garner’s attorney, told The Washington Post no amount of policy revisions or training can prevent a similar incident unless there is change at the top of the ranks.
At Wednesday’s news conference, Schielke pledged to donate $50,000 to a dementia charity of Ticer’s choice if he resigns within 30 days.
“Real leadership is stepping down when you’ve presided over repeated atrocities and repeated police misconduct,” Schielke later tweeted. “Real justice for Loveland = Chief Ticer resigns or is fired.”
A spokesperson for the city of Loveland told The Post in a message that Ticer is not stepping down.
“He has a responsibility to the community [that he] feels very strongly about,” spokesman Tom Hacker said.
Garner — who spent two days after the arrest repeatedly asking, “Why did they do this to me?” and “Why did they hurt me?” — no longer talks about the incident with her family, Schielke told The Post. Caretakers have suggested the family refrain from discussing the traumatic event because of Garner’s dementia and sensory aphasia, Schielke said.
Since the arrest, Garner has been hesitant to hug her loved ones and stopped going on walks, an activity she used to love. To her family, she seems to have retreated from life.
Early Wednesday afternoon, Garner had stepped out of her room “for the first time in a while” and attempted to interact with other residents, her caretaker wrote in her daily log.
“She even watched television with a small group,” the log reads.