DENVER – Loveland police officers who arrested a 73-year-old woman with dementia last summer laughed about the arrest when watching body camera video and fist-bumped each other, according to video newly released by the woman’s attorney on Monday.
Attorney Sarah Schielke, who is representing Karen Garner, the woman arrested by police, on Monday released the video from inside the Loveland Police Department’s booking area following Garner’s arrest after filing an amended federal complaint alleging excessive force that names two more LPD officers, in addition to the three already named in the lawsuit.
The video from inside the booking area shows Officers Austin Hopp and Daria Jalali, who arrested Garner last June and allegedly dislocated her shoulder and broke her arm during the arrest, according to the lawsuit, watching back the body camera video, laughing, and making comments about Garner’s arrest. According to her attorney, Garner was handcuffed and sitting on a bench in a cell just feet away.
Schielke said the audio accompanying the booking room video was enhanced by a sound engineer hired by Garner’s family.
The two officers, after bumping fists, discuss whether or not they believe the arrest “went well,” to which Hopp says, “I think we crushed it.”
“Did you hear the pop?” Hopp asks Jalali, then describing the scene. “…I was pushing, pushing, pushing. I hear ‘pop.’ I was like, ‘Oh no. That’s going to turn into something.’”
Later in the video, Hopp, Dalali and a person identified by the attorney as Loveland Community Service Officer Tyler Blackett watch the body camera video together, Hopp asks if they “hear the pop” in Garner’s shoulder, and the video shows Garner is capable of hearing the officers from inside her cell.
“I hate this,” Jalali says, while one of the other officers says, “This is great … I love it,” according to the video.
Schielke called the actions by officers in the videos “utterly disgusting.”
“These videos cannot be unseen or unheard,” she said in a statement. “…If I didn’t release this, the Loveland Police’s toxic culture of arrogance and entitlement, along with their horrific abuse of the vulnerable and powerless, would carry on, business as usual.”
Hopp encountered Garner just blocks away from her home after employees at a nearby Walmart called police, saying she was suspected of shoplifting around $14 in items and allegedly taking a mask off an employee’s face.
Video provided by Garner’s attorney shows her arrest and appears to show the woman is confused and mumbling. The video released by Garner’s attorney earlier this month and video released Monday allege the officers used excessive force on Garner in taking to the ground, injuring her arm and shoulder and getting her into the patrol car.
The amended complaint also alleges that an LPD sergeant and Blackett failed to intervene or provide medical care for Garner while she was in jail.
Hopp was placed on administrative leave after the lawsuit was filed, and Jalali and a sergeant were assigned to administrative duties pending the investigation.
The district attorney’s office dismissed the charges filed against Garner, and her attorney says she is currently living in a memory care facility.
The 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office last week said Fort Collins Police Services would lead an independent investigation into the incident, which Loveland police brass originally claimed not to have been aware of until the lawsuit was filed, though Schielke alleges that the video released Monday shows the officers discussed filing the incident as a “Blue Team” report noting force was used during an arrest.
In a statement, Tom Hacker, a spokesperson for the Loveland Police Department, said Monday that all matters related to Garner’s arrest are subject to the independent investigation ordered by the district attorney’s office and led by Fort Collins police.
“The District Attorney’s action and the third-party investigation are in keeping with a multi-agency Critical Incident Response Team protocol,” Hacker said. “Independent comment from the Loveland Police Department would not be appropriate at this time. LPD has faith in the due process that this investigation allows for.”
Garner’s family issued a statement on Tuesday in response to the videos released on Monday:
“We want to first thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for all the support that’s been shown for our family and Karen during this time.
“The truth is that we are devastated. Karen is our mother. She is our children’s grandmother. She is a human being. The Loveland Police treated her like an animal. They laughed and fist-bumped while they were doing it. They reveled in her pain and did nothing to address it. They relished in stripping her of all dignity. We are physically sickened. We are angry. Our hearts could not possibly ache any more.
“Our mother was forever changed by this event. Once fiercely independent, happy, carefree and a great lover of the outdoors, she is now fearful, distrusting, reclusive. Sad. Look at what they did to her. It is no wonder why.
“We want to know: When is Loveland going to be accountable for what they did? How much more can it take? The City of Loveland’s current silence and inaction is a slap in the face. What more could anyone need to see after watching these videos. They care more about protecting their officers and themselves than they do about the people they’ve hurt. It just doesn’t make any sense. We are heartbroken.”