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Loveland sergeant involved in Karen Garner arrest resigns following independent investigation

Sgt. Phillip Metzler signed off on use-of-force report in Garner's violent 2020 arrest
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Posted at 7:38 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 21:38:34-04

LOVELAND, Colo. — A Loveland sergeant involved in the case of use of force used against 73-year-old Karen Garner during an arrest in June 2020 has resigned following an independent investigation.

Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer was “engaged in the disciplinary review process” for the investigation, conducted by consulting firm Hillard Heintze, when Sgt. Phillip Metzler submitted his resignation, according to the department.

“This resignation closes one more chapter of an incident that has tarnished the hard work of the men and women of the Loveland Police Department who have and continue to serve with honor,” Ticer said in a statement.

Metzler was placed on administrative leave after Garner’s family filed a lawsuit against the department over her violent arrest on June 26, 2020. Employees at a Walmart called the police on Garner, who has dementia, alleging she tried to shoplift $13.88 worth of items from the store.

While arresting Garner, the officers broke her arm and dislocated her shoulder in the process.

According to the Blue Team report released by Garner’s attorney, Sarah Schielke, on Sept. 7, Metzler was the supervisor on the scene the day of the arrest. Metzler did not upload his body camera video until July 1, according to Schielke, and changed the case number associated with his video several times over the next two weeks before it was included in discovery evidence provided to the district attorney’s office in a supplemental report.Following review of the body worn camera video from Officer Austin Hopp, the arresting officer, Metzler wrote in a report “that this arrest and subsequent use of force was within policy and the minor force that was used was reasonable and appropriate for the situation.”

After sending the review off to to Lt. Robert Shaffer, the lieutenant asked why there wasn’t body worn camera of the arrest and struggle, but he ultimately passed the review onto Assistance Chief Ray Butler. Butler approved the Blue Team report within 35 minutes and wrote, “The use of force was necessary, reasonable and within policy.”

The officers involved in the arrest, Hopp and Daria Jalali, and Community Service Officer Tyler Blackett are no longer with the department. Hopp and Jalali were later charged in relation to Garner’s arrest.

The city announced on Sept. 8 it had reached a $3 million settlement with Garner.

"This incident shocked us by exposing us to the lowest form of human behavior and decency, particularly by people that should be respected, people that should know how to show respect," Garner's daughter-in-law Shannon Steward said following the settlement announcement. "Conversely, this family was also overwhelmed by the support and love of people in the City of Loveland as well as around the world. It was overwhelming and got us through some of the darkest times and for that, we say thank you."

The disciplinary review process from the independent investigation is still underway, and it will not be finalized until all employees involved have a chance to appeal. According to the department, the process historically takes several months, but could be released as early as next month if there are no appeals.