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Loveland Police Chief Supports Criminal Charges Against Former Officers, Family Of Karen Garner Says It Isn't Enough

LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – Two former Loveland Police Department officers, Austin Hopp and Daria Jalali, face criminal charges related to their handling of the arrest of a woman living with dementia. While both misdemeanor and felony charges have been filed, as have arrest warrants for the former officers, the family of Karen Garner says the charges were not sufficient.

Hopp and Jalali resigned from the force weeks before the charges were filed. However, they served for months after the initial arrest, only resigning after body camera footage was shared by CBS4.

karen garner arrest in loveland
(credit: The Life & Liberty Law Office)

Hopp is accused of breaking Garner's arm in June of 2020. He was trying to make contact with Garner after Walmart employees reported she attempted to steal less than $14 worth of merchandise.

In body camera footage Hopp is heard ordering Garner to stop. She continues to walk when Hopp grabs her, throws her to the ground and handcuffs her. Jalali responds to the scene moments later and watched as Hopp shoved Garner's arm behind her back.

A pop can be heard and Garner screams in pain.

Hopp then throws Garner to the ground again and ties her feet with the assistance of Jalali. At the Loveland Police Department, Hopp and Jalali are heard on security footage discussing how they knew Garner was injured, yet neither notified medical staff. The also shared the details of the injury with other staff, all of whom neglected to speak up.

karen garner arrest in loveland
(credit: The Life & Liberty Law Office)

Garner sat nearby in a cell, where she told officers multiple times her arm was injured. She wouldn't be treated by medical staff for hours. The issues of the day were not brought to light publicly until the family filed a federal lawsuit in April 2021.

Because of that incident, including the moment the officers are heard laughing about the incident, Larimer County's District Attorney's Office asked the Northern Colorado CIRT team to conduct a criminal investigation. Detectives from Fort Collins Police, and other nearby agencies, conducted dozens of interviews and re-watched hours of footage.

karen garner arrest in loveland
(credit: The Life & Liberty Law Office)

In the end the DA, Gordon McLaughlin, decided criminal charges were necessary.

Hopp now faces the following charges:
-Class 3 Felony Assault Causing Serious Bodily Injury
-Class 4 Felony Attempt To Influence And Officer
-Class 2 Misdemeanor Misconduct

Jalali now faces the following charges:
-Class 1 Misdemeanor Failure To Report Use Of Force
-Class 1 Misdemeanor Failure To Intervene
-Class 2 Misdemeanor Misconduct

Sarah Schielke, the attorney representing the Garner family, said Larimer County's District Attorney could have filed harsher charges against Hopp and Jalali, and said her clients were disappointed that the sergeant overseeing the duo was not charged as well for failing to report the incident.

Alissa Swartz, Garner's daughter, said she was heartbroken over the entire incident and was not pleased with the DA's final decision.

"I have seen the video and how (Hopp and Jalali) are laughing at my mom, and they're making fun of her. It felt like they are hiding behind a department," Swartz said.

Echoing Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer, McLaughlin said the DA's office was not aware of the issues surrounding the arrest until the lawsuit was filed in 2021.

"I was immediately concerned witch what I saw," McLaughlin said. "Austin Hopp used excessive force in the arrest of Ms. Garner."

McLaughlin said he was disappointed to see Jalali failed to speak up to her superiors, even after she is heard on video saying she didn't like watching the video of the moment Garner's arm was broken.

"Daria Jalali, having witnessed that excessive force, failed to live up to her duties under the law," McLaughlin said.

Fort Collins Police Chief Jeff Swoboda told CBS4's Dillon Thomas he could understand how the public's trust in law enforcement was hindered by Hopp and Jalali's alleged actions. However, he said the charges stemming from FCPS' joint-investigation should reassure the public that officers are willing and capable of holding each other accountable.

Ticer, Loveland's Police Chief, said he was fully supportive of the investigation and its results. He told Thomas the actions of Jalali and Hopp do not reflect the men and women of his department. He also doubled down on his original statements that he was unware of the incident's severity until the lawsuit was issued.

"I fully support these charges," Ticer said. "Their actions and attitudes are in direct contrast to the culture we strive for here at the Loveland Police Department."

Swartz and Schielke said they wanted more accountability from the officers and department, and said Garner's medical condition has worsened as a result of the arrest.

"I feel like they think they're above the law," Swartz said. "I just want justice for my mom."


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