LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) - Nearly two years after allegedly breaking the arm of an elderly woman living with dementia during a controversial arrest, former Loveland Police Officer Austin Hopp was sentenced to five years in prison as part of a plea agreement to lessen his jail sentence.
Karen Garner suffered from a broken arm, sprained wrist and separated shoulder during her June 2020 arrest by Hopp.
In Larimer County Court in early March, Hopp pleaded guilty to an assault charge that was punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison. That avoided the minimum 10 to 30 or more years in prison he would have faced had there been a trial and a conviction.
Hopp first encountered Garner after being dispatched to a report of an attempted theft at a Loveland Walmart. Garner, who lives with dementia, allegedly tried to steal less than $15 worth of goods from Walmart. When confronted by Walmart staff she returned the items and walked out of the store.
Body camera footage from Hopp showed him approaching Garner as she walked home. Carrying a wildflower in her hand, she failed to comply to multiple orders to stop. That is when Hopp is seen grabbing Garner by the arm and forcefully taking her to the ground.
As fellow now-former officer Daria Jalali responded to the scene, Hopp allegedly separated Garner's shoulder by forcing her arm behind her back and up near her shoulder blades. An audible pop is heard on the camera, something Hopp acknowledged hearing in footage later released by Loveland police.
Garner was taken to an intake holding facility at Loveland Police Department where she complained multiple times about having injuries. She was forced to sit in a holding cell without medical attention for hours, even after Hopp, Jalali and another Loveland employee were heard on security footage acknowledging that she may have injuries.
After a brief investigation, Hopp resigned from the Loveland Police Department, as did Jalali. Both were arrested and charged with crimes related to Garner's arrest.
As first reported by CBS4, the Larimer County District Attorney's Office elected to move forward with a plea agreement against the will of the Garner Family, something they have the legal right to do.
Garner's family felt the video in the case proved Hopp was guilty on all counts beyond a reasonable doubt.
Loveland Police Department Interim Chief Eric Stewart has issued the following statement regarding the sentencing of former police officer Austin Hopp: "The Loveland Police Department is grateful for the District Attorney's diligence and pursuit of due process during this very important case. While this will not change the terrible treatment Ms. Garner
experienced, we hope that this sentence can bring some measure of justice to her and her family."
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