Investigation launched into Loveland Police arrest of dementia patient

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — The district attorney’s office launched an independent criminal investigation of a Loveland Police Department use-of-force incident involving a 73-year-old dementia patient on Monday.

A Loveland civil rights attorney filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Loveland Police Department and three officers on April 14 on the behalf of Karen Garner who was arrested in June of 2020.

In the body camera footage, Officer Austin Hopp can be heard saying, “Ma’am, I don’t think you want to play it this way,” as he appears to stop his patrol vehicle and approach Garner.

“You just left Walmart, do you need to be arrested right now?” Hopp asked.

“I’m going home,” Garner responded repeatedly.

Within a few seconds, she is on the ground being handcuffed and moments later a second officer arrives on scene.

Garner is walked to the patrol car in cuffs, repeatedly saying, “I’m going home.” Both officers take Garner out of the patrol vehicle, put her on the ground, and proceed to use restraints to tie her feet together.

The 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said on April 15 it would review the information given and decide whether or not an independent criminal investigation was necessary.

“Involved and investigating agencies have agreed that an independent criminal review is appropriate, and an investigation of the incident will occur. The investigation will be led by Fort Collins Police Services and will be assisted, as needed, by investigative staff from the District Attorney’s Office and other partner agencies, including the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which will also assess the matter,” the district attorney’s statement said.

Garner’s children released the following statement in response:

“This is a small, but long overdue, step in the right direction. Many people have questioned why we didn’t file a complaint to the department when Karen was hurt. Based on what we saw on the video, what we saw Sergeant Metzler do in the face of a citizen complaint on the video, and the fact that the prior DA had watched the footage and never called for an investigation into the officers’ conduct before dismissing the case – the fact is, we just could not trust that it would be properly addressed. Clearly, the newly elected DA understands what we suspected last summer that only an independent, outside investigation, with all the world’s attention, will reveal the truth.”

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