LOVELAND, Colo. (KDVR) — The City of Loveland held a news conference on Friday morning to release the findings of an independent investigation into the arrest of Karen Garner in 2020.
The independent audit revealed that Sgt. Phil Metzler, who was on the scene following Garner’s arrest, changed the case number on his body camera footage that had recorded a citizen who complained about the arrest. The body camera footage case number from Metzler’s camera was moved to an unrelated incident number, the report video revealed.
(Watch the full news conference on FOX31 NOW)
Metzler resigned from LPD in September 2021.
Loveland City Manager Steve Adams said egregious mistakes were made in the arrest of Garner.
“In the arrest of Ms. Garner, Egregious mistakes were made resulting in a widespread review in our policing and policies,” Adams said.
The audit also revealed that there were numerous violations of department rules and policies, including the use of force, conduct and ethics standards.
“The actions of those who were involved with the arrest that day were inconsistent with department norms,” Adams explained. “This behavior will not be tolerated in our police department.”
Adams said that the Loveland Police Department has focused heavily on being a better police department and focused on implementing best-in-class practices for the Loveland community.
Here are some of the things Adams said have been implemented:
- A focus on mental health and de-escalation
- Additional training
- Better internal communications
- Hiring of new police chief, new public information officer
- Improved and evaluated Blue Team Review and after-incident reports
- Non-LPD reviewers within the Blue Team Review process
- Fine-tuning policies related to community engagement and transparency
Adams shared a closing message during the news conference.
“First, I repeat, mistakes were made to the Garner family, and we apologize for that and I can’t say that enough and I had the opportunity to personally do that earlier today. Second, I have to admire our police department hanging in there working and continuing to provide service to our community, and also being aware of things that are going on here that will help us be a better department and they welcome that, and they want that. And finally, I would like to thank our elected officials. Our mayor who is here today in the audience and our city council who have had the faith and trust in me and our police department and our officers to allow this to be worked on to let us develop more information to find out how we can improve and take those opportunities and trust that we will come to a higher level of community good in our community,” Adams explained.
Karen Garner arrest
The incident happened on June 26, 2020. Garner, 73 years old at the time, suffered from dementia. She suffered a broken arm and other injuries during the arrest.
Former Loveland Police Officer Daria Jalali was sentenced to 45 days in jail and 36 months of probation in August of this year for failing to intervene when her fellow officer arrested Garner.
In June, the district attorney dismissed her two other misdemeanor charges of failing to report a use of force and official misconduct.
The other former officer involved in the arrest, Austin Hopp, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Jalali and Hopp arrested Garner in 2020 after she was accused of stealing from Walmart. Loveland ultimately settled the Garner family’s lawsuit over the arrest for $3 million.