The City of Loveland has settled the federal civil rights lawsuit for $3million.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Karen Garner's attorney Sarah Schielke said the city and its police officers were paying "for their horrific assault upon her, for their failure to provide her with medical care for hours afterward, and their supervisors blatant and appalling efforts to cover it all up."
"She was 73. She had dementia. She was one of the most vulnerable members of our community. And she was carrying wildflowers. Her crime? She had forgotten to pay for thirteen dollars and 88 cents of items from Walmart," she said.
"Thirteen dollars and 88 cents is the business interest that Loveland believed was worth inflicting this atrocity. Today, they pay Ms. Garner $3 million."
She said the settlement amount was likely record-breaking for a civil rights case that doesn't involve death or permanent disfigurement.
"Not only does its amount send a powerful message, but the speed in which it was obtained does as well — just four months since we filed the lawsuit."
Despite intending to fight the case all the way, she said the family decided to settle not just because they'd have to put Karen through more years of litigation, and not just because they wanted the grandmother of nine to be able to use her reparation now, when she needed it, but because of an old letter they recently discovered, written years ago by Karen herself — when her dementia was beginning to take hold.
It read: "All I've wanted all my life was someone to love, adore and care about me. I find the world scary now, being alone. So value love as a treasured gift that is all that matters. I want the best and fullest lives possible for my children and grandchildren. And I feel the world is getting crueler."
"Don't make it any rougher for yourselves by living in the past. Look out the front window. Don't dwell on what's in the rear view mirror."
Garner's daughter-in-law Shannon Steward added: "This incident shocked us by exposing us to the lowest form of human behavior and decency, particularity by people that should be respected, people that should know how to show respect, and an inability just to do the right thing."
"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."
Schielke concluded by insisting that while the settlement brought partial justice, it would only be fulfilled when every one involved in the incident — as well as those who foster the environment among law enforcement that perpetuates similar incidents — are held accountable.
update 5/21/2021 7:40 AM
Officers Austin Hopp and Daria Jalali have both been arrested on assault charges.
Warrants were issued for their arrest on Wednesday, and they turned themselves in the following morning, CBS4 reported: Hopp shortly after 8:30 AM, and Jalali a little over an hour later.
Hopp is charged with Assault of an at-risk adult causing serious bodily injury, and attempting to influence a public servant, both felonies; he is also charged with Misdemeanor official misconduct.
He appeared in a Larimer County courtroom Thursday afternoon, in handcuffs and a yellow jumpsuit.
His bond was set at $20,000, as part of which he must not possess any weapons, have no contact with Garner, must stay a 100-yard distance from her or her home, and may not work in law enforcement.
Jalali meanwhile is charged with failure to report an excessive use of force, Failure to intervene in the use of excessive force, and Official misconduct — all misdemeanors. Her bond was set at $5,000.
original story 4/27/2021 8:44 AM
Sickening video has emerged from a Colorado police station where officers laughed about breaking the arm of a 73-year-old dementia patient.
Karen Garner was violently arrested on June 26 of last year after wandering out of a Walmart with $13 worth of items she forgot to pay for.
As body cam footage shows, she was happily picking wildflowers by the side of the road when officers caught up with her. Within seconds they have her arm wrenched behind her back, thrown to the ground and in cuffs.
As the tiny, terrified and bloodied septuagenarian begs to be allowed to go home, they laugh at her, hogtie her and throw her in the back of the police car.
The disturbing arrest made national headlines after the family filed a civil lawsuit earlier this month; but on Monday their attorneys released footage arguably even more disturbing, showing the arresting officers Austin Hopp and Daria Jalali laughing, mocking and even fist-bumping about the arrest, as the severely injured grandmother sat with her broken arm handcuffed behind her, alone in a cell just feet away, for six hours without medical attention.
The family hired a sound engineer to enhance the audio on the police station camera footage; it shows the two officers boasting and congratulating each other on how they managed to restrain the elderly lady between them.
At one point Hopp can be heard excitedly telling another officer how he got to use his hobble for the first time, a police rope restraint used for tying up prisoners' legs.
"It was the first time I got to use it, I was very proud, I was like [gasps!] I was super excited," he gushed.
"We fought a little bit," he boasted to a colleague. "I was like 'Alright let's wrestle girl! Let's wreck it!"
But the most unsettling part of the footage comes when three of the officers crowd around a screen to watch their body cam footage, as they laugh about the exact moment they snapped Garner's shoulder out of its socket.
"Ready for the pop?" Hopp boasts. "Here comes the pop."
Meanwhile a camera inside Garner's holding room shows her sitting there, still untreated, while the laughter and sounds of her violent arrest echo around her cell.
"This is utterly disgusting," Garner's attorney, Sarah Schielke said. "These videos cannot be unseen or unheard. I am sorry to have to share them with the public. This will be traumatic and deeply upsetting for everyone to see."
"But as it often goes with bad police departments, it seems this is the only way to make them change. They have to be exposed. If I didn't release this, the Loveland Police's toxic culture of arrogance and entitlement, along with their abuse of the vulnerable and powerless, would carry on, business as usual."
Schielke claims that when they first complained to Loveland PD, they said it was the "first they heard of the incident"; yet at several points the police mention on camera the incident was being reported to Blue Team, a computer-based reporting system that covers use of force in arrests — and is reviewed at each level of supervision.
"Loveland knew. They've known all along," Schielke continued. "They failed Karen Garner. They failed the community. And they did it all on camera. Do you realize how horrifying that is? That means they were used to getting away with it. That the comfortable norm in Loveland is one of zero accountability."
"That this is not just some 'isolated incident.' It is not just one single 'problem.' It is widespread, sociopathic criminality. And to attempt to shift the burden to Karen, or a bystander, or her family, or counsel, to report this? Shame on you, Loveland. You took an oath to protect and serve. This is a disgrace."
As the incident is being investigated, Chief Robert Ticer placed Hopp on administrative leave, and reassigned Jalali to administrative duties.
Schielke said Garner has still not received an apology from the city.
Garner's "crime" was leaving Walmart without paying for a candy bar, a can of Pepsi and a t-shirt totaling $13.38; Walmart later confirmed it had recovered the items, so it didn't suffer the monetary loss.