The Larimer County District Attorney announced that the Critical Incident Response Team’s protocol investigation of the Loveland Police Department and the officers involved in the 2020 arrest of Karen Garner in 2020 was completed on Wednesday.
Later that day, Loveland Police Chief Bob Ticer, as well as Garner’s attorney and family discussed the charges brought against two of the officers involved.
During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, DA Gordon McLaughlin said his office had filed criminal charges against Austin Hopp and Daria Jalali, the former LPD officials who arrested Garner.
Hopp was charged with assaulting a second-degree adult at risk, a class 3 crime. Attempting to influence an officer, a class 4 crime; and first degree official misconduct, a class 2 offense.
Jalali was charged with not reporting excessive use of force, a Class 1 offense; Failure to engage in the use of excessive force, a Class 1 offense; and first degree official misconduct, a class 2 offense.
“While peace officials are permitted to use reasonable force to make an arrest, the investigation into this case found that Austin Hopp used excessive force in the arrest of Ms. Garner, resulting in serious bodily harm,” McLaughlin said Wednesday. “The investigation also found that Daria Jalali, who witnessed this excessive violence, was failing to fulfill her legal obligations and, as a sworn peace commissioner, either intervened or reported on this behavior.”
No news of whether they vomited or been arrested was released until Wednesday afternoon.
The two former officers resigned from the LPD in late April, along with former community service officer Tyler Blackett, who was also named in the lawsuit for his involvement in the police department following Garner’s arrest.
Sgt. Phil Metzler, the field supervisor, and Sgt. Antolina Hill were also named in the lawsuit but are still employed by the LPD. Metzler remains on administrative leave.
McLaughlin said in reviewing the case that “we currently do not believe the evidence supports criminal charges against the other individuals involved.”
He added that while the community has concerns about the behavior, it is up to the prosecution to determine whether that behavior increases to the level of criminal guilt.
Fort Collins police chief Jeff Swoboda said the investigation by his department took less than 30 days and resulted in a nearly 700-page report based on information gathered from over two dozen interviews, audio and video were.
“Investigations are generally more difficult when there is a delay between the incident and the investigation,” he said. “However, the professionalism and skill of these detectives produced a report that clearly outlined what happened that day.”
McLaughlin said a member of the prosecutor’s office previously reviewed footage when Garner’s criminal case was dismissed and continues to work with the prosecutor.
“I have made it very clear to members of my office, attorneys and others that I will not stand up for someone who looks the other way at such evidence,” he said. “I expect (it) to be brought straight to me and that we check it out, and that has now been made crystal clear to my staff. What the expectations were last year wasn’t my decision. “
McLaughlin said ensuring confidence in law enforcement and the criminal justice system is “critical” to community safety and the belief in fairness. He later said he believed the decision “clearly speaks” that accountability will be achieved.
“I hope today can be a step toward restoring confidence in the criminal justice system and the Larimer County community, and seeing justice for Ms. Garner’s family,” he said.
Loveland Police Chief Bob Ticer discusses that on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, two former Loveland police officers were charged after they were charged following Karen Garner’s arrest and lawsuit. (Jenny Sparks / Loveland Reporter-Herald)
Later on Wednesday, Ticer spoke at the Loveland Police and Courts building and stated that he fully supported the charges brought against his two former employees.
“Your actions and attitudes are in direct contrast to the attitudes we are trying to create here in the Loveland Police Department,” he said.
Since the lawsuit came to light, Ticer said the department had put all officers on Alzheimer’s awareness training and will be doing another de-escalation training next month. He said the department and prosecutor had reviewed all cases of violence by 2019, a practice that is expected to continue.
“That extra level of control is important not just for the department, but also for the ward, the ward we serve,” he said.
The department will also conduct an independent investigation into the incident led by the city’s human resources department. Ticer said it was currently undecided who would take part in this investigation.
After the Ticer conference, Sarah Schielke, Garner’s attorney, and two of her family members held a press conference on the department’s doorstep to respond to the filed charges.
Schielke said that while the family is extremely relieved that the prosecutor has charged “these criminals”, enough has not been done.
“We all saw the same video,” she said. “Ultimately, the DA Office’s decision to end their charges after Hopp and Jalali left this family with more questions than answers and more concern than relief. These officers didn’t do what they did in a vacuum. If they had done that, Karen would have received immediate medical attention (and) Hopp would have been unemployed for a long time by now. “
Schielke said that this case is not an excessive use of force, but torture. Both Hopp and Jalali could have faced several other charges related to what happened.
She said the six charges were unsatisfactory to the family or the community, nor was the fact that Metzler was still employed in the department.
Schielke also said that assistance from other members of the department in Hopp’s actions should be considered an accessory to a crime, and even brought a billboard with the definition of an accessory to illustrate their point of view.
“It is a crime to help other people commit crimes. That’s the law in Colorado, ”she said. Why aren’t these officers charged? You don’t have to be the prosecutor, you don’t have to have a law degree to read what a crime is, and accessories are pretty easy. “
She also pointed out that no charges were brought in connection with Garner’s treatment in the Loveland Police Department, with the department’s video being among “the most morally reprehensible, criminal conduct of all.”
Of all the questions the family has, Schielke said one of the biggest is how the “old guard”, consisting of Ticer, city administrator Steve Adams and others, still holds their city positions.
“The family is still eagerly awaiting answers to any of these questions,” she said.
Garner’s daughter Allisa Swartz and her daughter-in-law Shannon Steward, who spoke to the Reporter-Herald in late April, also spoke on Wednesday afternoon. They said Garner’s caretaker at the memory ward she currently lives in said her experience had negatively affected the symptoms of her dementia. Her family said she is not the same.
Swartz, who tearfully spoke and had to stop regularly, said she felt the officers were hiding behind the department.
“I just want justice for my mother,” she said.
“The story didn’t stop at Hopp and Jalali, the story went on, or we wouldn’t be here today and wouldn’t hear that we didn’t know until April 14th,” said Steward. “So the charges against Hopp and Jalali cannot stop, they have to continue and we have to find out everything that happened before April 14th.”
Karen Garner’s daughter Allisa Swartz (left) and Garner’s daughter-in-law Shannon Steward will speak about their mother on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, responding to charges against the former Loveland police officers who last arrested Garner in June Loveland. Garner’s attorney, Sarah Schielke, also discussed the charges. (Jenny Sparks / Loveland Reporter-Herald)