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3 Colorado Officers Involved In Forceful Arrest Of Woman With Dementia Resign

A screenshot from former Loveland police officer Austin Hopp's body camera moments before he forcefully arrested 73-year-old Karen Garner on June 26, 2020.
A screenshot from former Loveland police officer Austin Hopp's body camera moments before he forcefully arrested 73-year-old Karen Garner on June 26, 2020.

Three Loveland, Colo., police officers involved in the forceful arrest and detention of Karen Garner, a 73-year-old woman with dementia, have resigned from the department.

"I share the community's concerns on this. It hurt to see that," Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer said of the body camera footage of the arrest during the conference. "I've been in law enforcement 32 years, and what I saw in there hurt me, personally."

Ticer made the announcement Friday during a press conference, which came more than a week after a federal civil rights lawsuit against multiple officers and the Loveland Police Department was filed by Sarah Schielke from The Life and Liberty Law Office on behalf of Garner. Officers Austin Hopp, Daria Jalali and community service officer Tyler Blackett, who assisted in booking Garner, all resigned.

"Today we listened to Chief Ticer give a speech singularly endeavoring to protect only himself and the reputation of the LPD. He repeatedly dodged questions regarding our family. He made no reference to Karen personally," said a statement from Garner's family. "And just like on June 26, 2020, the inhumane treatment of our mother was ignored and his continued support of the department was the focus. He said that our mother's case has 'hurt him personally.' It is clear that the only thing that has 'hurt him personally' has been the attention this case has brought to his department. Not what happened to our mother. We are disappointed."

Two other officers named in the lawsuit have retained their jobs with the Loveland department. Sgt. Phil Metzler, who responded to the scene of Garner's arrest, was placed on administrative leave; meanwhile, Sgt. Antolina Hill, who was involved in booking Garner, still works her regular duty assignment.

The statement from Garner's family calls for Metzler and Hill to be removed from the force. It also calls for Ticer himself to step down or be removed.

"His decision to not resign, and the City of Loveland's City Manager (Steve Adams) decision to not remove him from that position proves that LPD's leadership and toxic culture problems are just as bad as we suspected when we saw the very first video, if not worse," the statement reads. "And they go all the way through Ticer, to the very top. Because while the world looks on, aghast, and waiting — the City leaves the old guard in place. And it does nothing."

On June 26, 2020, Garner was forcefully arrested by Loveland Police officers after she left a Walmart with $14 of unpaid merchandise. Garner suffered a fractured arm and dislocated shoulder during the arrest, according to the lawsuit. In photos from a press release, the back of Garner's arms and her wrists were badly bruised.

"Our goal at the Loveland Police Department has always been to make our community proud," Ticer said. "We failed, and we are very sorry for that."

An investigation has also been launched by the office of the Eighth Judicial District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin. The district's Critical Incident Response Team, composed of investigators from 10 area agencies in Larimer and Jackson counties, will investigate the incident.

Copyright 2021 CPR News