Litigation

Two ex-Colorado police officers charged with injuring elderly woman with dementia

2 minute read
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DENVER, May 19 (Reuters) - Two former Colorado police officers were charged on Wednesday, one with felony assault, in the forceful detention of an elderly, dementia-impaired woman whose shoplifting arrest left her with a broken arm and dislocated shoulder.

Circumstances surrounding last year's injury of Karen Garner, 73, came to light last month when her family filed a federal civil-rights suit against the city of Loveland, Colorado, its police department and the two officers, who have since resigned.

Police body-camera footage of the June 2020 encounter became public as an exhibit filed in court as part of the lawsuit.

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The former officers, Austin Hopp and Daria Jalali, face three criminal counts stemming from the arrest, Larimer County District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin said at a news briefing.

Hopp was charged with two felony counts of assault causing serious bodily injury, and attempting to influence a public servant. He also was charged with official misconduct, a misdemeanor. Jalali was charged with three misdemeanor counts of failing to report the use of force, failure to intervene, and official misconduct.

A police officer holds his hands as a procession of police vehicles approach the memorial service in Lafayette, Colorado, March 30, 2021. REUTERS/Alyson McClaran

According to the lawsuit, they were called to the scene after Garner had been caught by Walmart store security trying to leave without paying for merchandise valued at less than $15, then walked out of the store.

The video shows Hopp confront the woman, and when she tries to move away he handcuffs her behind her back and shoves her to the ground.

Garner was held at the police station for hours before receiving medical attention despite complaining about her injuries, according to the lawsuit, which said she suffered a fracture to her upper arm, a dislocated shoulder and a sprained wrist.

Loveland Police chief Robert Ticer told reporters at a separate briefing that he supports the prosecutions, adding that his officers now undergo training in de-escalating situations while dealing with people suffering from dementia.

The family’s civil attorney, Sarah Schielke, said the criminal charges were “not satisfactory.”

“This is not an excessive force case, it’s torture,” she said.

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Reporting by Keith Coffman; writing by Steve Gorman. Editing by Gerry Doyle

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