DENVER – The family of Karen Garner, the woman with dementia violently arrested by Loveland, Colorado police last year, says she was “forever changed” by the arrest and is demanding answers and repercussions for the officers from the city.
Garner’s family released a statement Tuesday a day after Garner’s attorney released new videoshowing the officers who arrested Garner last June – and allegedly dislocated her shoulder and broke her arm in the process – laughing, joking and fist-bumping each other while discussing and watching the body camera video of the incident and arrest.
Garner was arrested close to her home after Walmart employees called Loveland police to report she had shoplifted around $14 in items from the store and had taken a mask off an employee’s face.
The family says they are “devastated” by their mother’s treatment and that Loveland police “treated her like an animal.”
“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 more,” the family said.
They said that Garner used to be “fiercely independent, happy, carefree and a great lover of the outdoors” but said that she is no longer the same after the incident.
“She is now fearful, distrusting, reclusive. Sad. Look at what they did to her. It is no wonder why,” the family said.
The video released Monday by attorney Sarah Schielke included video from inside the booking area showing the arresting officers, Austin Hopp and Daria Jalali, watching the body-worn videos of their arrest of Garner and discussing it as she sat feet away inside of a cell and injured.
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.’”
At one point, one of the officers seen in the video says, “This is great … I love it,” while watching video of the arrest.
Schielke has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Loveland and five officers involved in either Garner’s arrest or who were at the jail while she was still in custody. The lawsuit alleges the officers used excessive force in arresting her and also failed to provide proper medical care for her injuries or to intervene when the alleged excessive force was being used.
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 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.
But Garner’s family said Tuesday they have not seen enough action from the city.
“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,” the family said. “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.”
Schielke said in a statement that the family wants justice for Garner, want the five officers fired immediately and criminally charged.
“They want the City leadership that hired these individuals and fostered this culture of abuse removed,” she said. “Enough investigating. The police have known about this for 10 months and the videos speak for themselves. It’s time for action. It’s time for accountability and change in the city of Loveland starting right now.”
On Monday, Tom Hacker, a spokesperson for the Loveland Police Department, said the matters related to Garner’s arrest are subject to the independent investigation ordered by the DA’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.”
Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer was grilled by city council members Monday during a presentation he made regarding the incident between police and Garner – during which he said he knew the community’s trust has been breached.
The chief explained some of the department’s body camera policies and procedures and explained how the “Blue Team” reports, in which officers are supposed to report when force was used, were made. He noted that some incidents in which force is used could fall through the cracks on occasion.
He also told the mayor and council members that it is “impossible” to review all body-worn camera videos at the end of officers’ shifts because of the vast amount of video captured.
City council is holding another meeting Tuesday evening to discuss other issues; the Garner arrest incident is not on the meeting agenda but could be brought up again during public comment.