LOVELAND, Colorado – A 73-year-old Colorado woman with dementia who was handcuffed and pushed to the ground after being charged with shoplifting is the subject of a federal civil lawsuit against the Loveland Police Department.
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A Loveland law firm filed the lawsuit on behalf of Karen Garner Wednesday, alleging the division and officers Austin Hopp, Daria Jalabi and Sgt. Phil Metzler, according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald.
According to The Associated Press, Hopp was put on administrative leave on Thursday pending a police investigation. Jalabi and Metzler have been assigned administrative duties, the Loveland Police Department said. Loveland City Council members on Thursday called for a police department policy review, according to the Reporter-Herald.
“LPD takes the allegations about the arrest of Karen Garner very seriously and has communicated concerns about the video images released on Wednesday,” the department said in a statement.
Garner suffered a broken arm and shoulder injury at a Walmart in Loveland on June 26, 2020. Garner was accused of failing to pay for $ 13.88 worth of items, KCNC reported.
In the lawsuit by attorney Sarah Schielke, in which unspecified claims for damages are asserted, violations of the law on Americans with disabilities are asserted, reported KDVR.
“This lady is not all there,” said Schielke to the television station. “(The officer should) give him another second.”
According to the lawsuit, Garner has dementia and sensory aphasia, which affects her ability to communicate and understand.
The lawsuit alleges that Walmart employees asked Garner to return to the store when they saw her leave without payment and took back the items – a soda, candy bar, T-shirt, and wipe refills – to deny their request for payment Objects.
“We stopped Ms. Garner after we noticed her attempt to get goods from the store without paying,” a Walmart spokesman told KDVR. “When we raised this issue with her directly, the situation escalated when she forcibly removed an employee’s face mask and fled the store. The police were only called after Ms. Garner came into contact with an employee. “
>> Read the full lawsuit here
The lawsuit alleges that Hopp “violently attacked Garner without provocation” while walking home from eastern Loveland Walmart.
In a statement, the Larimer District Attorney’s Office said it shared “the community’s concern about the levels of violence shown”.
As part of Garner’s lawsuit recorded a video with a police camera, Hopp can be heard saying, “Ma’am, I don’t think that’s how you want to play it.” He appears to stop his patrol car and approach Garner.
“You have just left Walmart, do you need to be arrested now?” asked the officer.
“I’m going home,” Garner replied over the video.
Once, Garner was handcuffed and brought to the ground, KDVR reported.
“It looks bad … you’re a big guy … you’re bringing a little old lady to the ground,” former Denver police chief James Ponzi, a 35-year law enforcement veteran, told KDVR.
Jalali assisted Hopp with the arrest according to the lawsuit. Metzler, who later appeared on the scene, agreed to the arrest, the lawsuit said, and directed Garner “later to refuse access to medical care for her injuries.”
The lawsuit alleges Garner was handcuffed to a police cell for more than two hours, KCNC reported. She was then taken to Larimer County Jail, where she was left without medical treatment for an additional three hours.
Schielke said she was concerned about other elderly or disabled people in Loveland.
“Arrest and injure and prosecute and ask questions first is apparently never like they do in Loveland,” Schielke told the Reporter-Herald.
The charges against Garner were dismissed after prosecutors wrote in an August 2020 motion that, according to the AP, she “appears to be unable to understand her surroundings or her actions.”
“Our firm is committed to fair and professional reviews of the alleged excessive use of force,” said a statement from the Larimer District Attorney. “After another review, the prosecutor will examine whether an independent criminal investigation is warranted.”