LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4)- The Loveland Police Department is responding to a federal lawsuit that alleges "excessive use of force" and serious injury during an arrest of a woman in her 70s. The department became aware of the lawsuit on Wednesday after body camera video was posted on the Loveland Police Department's Facebook page.
The shoplifting arrest of Karen Garner, 73, happened on June 26, 2020. Police said they will investigate the incident that will include "an examination of all images, documents and records compiled" in connection with the event. Garner was suspected of having taken $13.88 in items from a Walmart without paying for them.
The Life & Liberty Law Office representing Garner said that she suffers from dementia and sensory aphasia, which impairs her ability to verbally communicate and understand others' communications. She is also 5-feet and weighs 80 pounds. According to her attorneys, on the day in question, she was walking through a field, picking wildflowers when Officer Hopp stopped, called out to her to stop and talk to him.
According to the statement from the Life & Liberty Law Office, When she indicated she did not understand him, and turned to continue walking home, he grabbed her and violently assaulted her, twisting her arms behind her back, throwing her to the ground and handcuffing her. Just eight seconds passed between Officer Hopp reaching Ms. Garner and Officer Hopp throwing her tiny body to the ground and putting her in handcuffs. Defendant Officer Jalali then arrived and assisted Officer Hopp in violently and needlessly dislocating Ms. Garner's shoulder, fracturing her humerus, and spraining her wrist. Then they threw her onto the ground again and hog-tied her. Throughout this attack, the only thing the terrified, disabled and injured Ms. Garner was able to utter was "I'm going home!". She cried out these words over 38 times.
Garner's lawyers accuse supervising officer Sgt. Metzler of helping his subordinates cover up the brutality and allegedly directed that Garner be denied access to medical care for her injuries. Metzler also is alleged to have kept his own body camera deactivated and failed to write a report regarding use of force, both of which are claimed to be a violation of the Loveland Police Department's written policies.
The attorneys go on to claim that Garner was ignored despite repeated complaints of pain and that medical care was not sought for her in the several hours she remained with police, instead she was handcuffed to a cell at the station for more than 2 hours. She was then transferred to the Larimer County Jail where she remained for another 3 hours without medical treatment.
According to Loveland police, the arresting officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation's outcome. An officer who assisted in the arrest and the on-scene supervisor have been reassigned to administrative duties.
Garner's attorneys say that since her arrest last summer, she has become withdrawn, depressed, afraid to go outdoors and that she needs help getting dressed and showering because she has lost most functional use of her left arm.
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