Austin Scott Hopp, 26, a police officer in Loveland, Larimer County, Colorado, United States, is accused of excessive force in the arrest of Karen Garner, 73, of Loveland. She is suffering from dementia and is living in a memory care facility.
On behalf of Garner, Sarah Schielke of The Life and Liberty Law Office filed an excessive force lawsuit on April 14, 2021. Hopp and his fellow Loveland Police Department officer Daria Jalali arrested Garner on June 26, 2020 a few blocks from Garner’s house in Loveland and Sergeant Phil Metzler approved of the arrest.
That day, Garner was accused of leaving a Walmart on Denver Avenue in Loveland without paying for the items she took that were worth $13.88 so the store called police. It is a common practice among people suffering from dementia, the lawsuit claimed.
On April 15, 2021, the Loveland Police Department announced that Hopp has been placed on administrative leave while Jalali and Metzler have been reassigned to administrative duties. In a statement obtained by The Denver Channel on the same day, a Walmart spokesperson said, “When we addressed this issue with the customer, she became unreasonable and escalated the situation by ripping the facemask off one of our associates and fleeing the store.”
While walking home, Garner was stopped by Hopp and she looked confused. He handcuffed her and took her to the patrol car.
Jalali arrived on scene and held Garner while Hopp continued pushing painfully upward on the dementia-stricken elderly woman’s left arm, which was already restrained, the lawsuit said. He also accused of violently touching the arrestee all over her body.
“I’m going home!” Garner told Hopp, Jalali and Metzler. The arrestee was taken to the Larimer County Jail in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Because of the arrest, Garner suffered several injuries including a dislocated shoulder and a fractured upper arm. She was later taken to a hospital for treatment and the charges against her were dismissed by the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Garner is 5’0″ tall and weighs 80 lbs. Aside from dementia, she also suffers from sensory aphasia, which impairs her ability to communicate and understand.