LOVELAND, Colo. (KDVR) — A former member of the Loveland Police Department has accepted a plea deal after assaulting a woman with dementia in 2020.
On June 26, 2020, Austin Hopp arrested Karen Garner who had been accused of stealing from Walmart. Garner, then 73, has dementia and according to the affidavit “indicated an obvious deficiency in Garner’s comprehension of her surroundings.”
Garner’s family called the decision “a slap in the face.”
“We were hoping it would go to court. We just wanted it to run its course,” Garner’s daughter-in-law Shannon Steward said.
Bodycam video of the arrest was first released by Garner’s attorney in April of 2021, nearly a full year after the arrest. In the video, you can see Hopp approach Garner and ask, “do you need to be arrested right now?” A short time later she is on the ground.
“I can’t get those pictures of my mom being thrown to the ground. Humiliated. Officer Hopp smiling, laughing, giving fist bumps. We want justice and the only way it was going to happen is if he went to court and let a jury decide,” Garner’s son John Steward said.
Later video shows her in the holding cell at the Loveland Police Department while Hopp and other officers review the footage. At one point Hopp can be heard referencing the video and saying, “ready for the pop? Hear that pop?”
At the same time, Garner told officers she was injured multiple times but did not receive medical treatment for several hours.
The plea deal was accepted by former officer Austin Hopp, the prosecution, and the judge. It involves Hopp pleading guilty to second-degree assault. He is set to be sentenced during a hearing on May 5.
“What we achieved here today is a result I know the community will be proud of. We take victims’ input very seriously, but this deal, I think, is in the best interest of justice for the community. It ensures accountability,” Larimer County District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin said.
But Garner’s family disagrees.
“This matters to a lot of people beyond our family. For their safety, for the town of Loveland, for the pride of the town they live in, and they were very disappointed today as well,” Shannon Steward said.
A second officer, Daria Jalali, arrived on the scene during Garner’s arrest and was charged with failing to intervene and failing to report use of force.
Both officers resigned from the Loveland Police Department shortly after they were charged.
“Our department appreciates your pursuit of justice. What happened to Ms. Garner is a stark reminder that no police officer is above the law. We appreciate the DA’s efforts in pursuing justice for Ms. Garner and her family,” the Loveland Police Department said in a tweet.