Austin Hopp was heard bragging about throwing the Karen Garner on the ground before admitting, "This is great" and "I love this."
Trigger Warning: This story contains graphic details of police brutality that readers may find disturbing.
A Colorado police officer who landed himself in hot water for violently arresting a 73-year-old woman with dementia has managed to make things worse for himself. On Monday, Karen Garner's attorney released a video that showed Loveland police Austin Hopp and two other officers watching the controversial bodycam footage, and Hopp was enjoying it way too much. The security footage was reportedly released by Life & Liberty Law Office from the police station where Garner had been booked into. The video, with clear audio, shows Hopp putting the footage on for others to watch at around the 45:40 mark. Officer Daria Jalali, who can be seen seated on Hopp's right, initially seemed to enjoy the footage after remarking that viewing bodycam footage is "like watching live TV."
The controversy stems from an incident that unfolded on June 26, 2020, when Garner was arrested aggressively after being accused of shoplifting. A federal lawsuit filed against three officers involved in the incident and the city of Loveland revealed that Garber had dementia and sensory aphasia that prevents her from understanding any spoken or written speech. That day Hopp had made multiple attempts to stop Garner and when he finally confronted her, she seemed to give him a blank expression before saying something unintelligible and walking away, per the bodycam video. In an attempt to stop her, Hopp twisted her arms behind her back and pushed her left arm "painfully upwards." Daria Jalali later arrived at the scene to help with the arrest when Hopp repeatedly threw her onto the ground and used a contentious retraining method i.e. hog-tie to keep her on the side of the road.
The lawsuit alleged that the violence had resulted in a dislocated shoulder, a fractured humerus bone, and a sprained wrist. Despite her obvious injuries and bruises, she wasn't taken to a medical facility until several hours after the arrest. Following the arrest, Hopp and Jalali were laughing as they rewatched the body camera footage while an injured Garner sat handcuffed to a bench in a nearby cell. "Ready for the pop?" an officer identified as Hopp by Garner's lawyer said to other officers while rewatching the footage. "What popped?" asked another officer. "I think it was her shoulder," said Hopp according to Denver Post.
Hopp could also be heard saying, "I can’t believe I threw a 73-year-old on the ground." After watching for several minutes, Jalali kept saying, "I hate this." But Hopp's response was shocking as he admitted, "This is great" and "I love this." The officers seemed quite indifferent while discussing how the 80-pound frail woman's arms were broke by them and this sickened the family. "To hear that tone in someone’s voice, to get that tone in your head, it just stirs you to more anger," revealed Garner's daughter-in-law Shannon Steward.
Boy.,It Takes 'Real' Men, to Brag About Taking Down an Elderly Woman With Dementia!— Anna Analizer 65 (@Catheri28779061) April 26, 2021
The Denver Post: Colorado officers who violently arrested 73-year-old with dementia laughed about incident afterward, video shows.https://t.co/NASl78xKRL
At the beginning of the footage, Jalali was heard saying, "Body cams are my favorite thing to watch. I could watch livestream body cams all day." But after clearly hearing the sounds of distress from Garner in the video, officer Jalali begins to exhibit physical signs of discomfort. Jalali ended up covering her eyes and ears after no longer being able to watch the video. "Can you stop it now?" she asks, but Hopp keeps enjoying the clip and instead goes on to open up about the parts he knows he injured the elderly woman. Hopp and the other officer continue laughing and joking at the woman begging and crying in the video.
Following the arrest, Garner hardly communicates and suffers from anxiety, mistrust, and fear whenever if ever, she goes out in public. Her attorney Sarah Schielke condemned the officers for laughing about the incident that has traumatized the elderly woman. Recommending families not to watch the incident Schielke said, "These videos cannot be unseen or unheard." Her daughter Alissa Swartz feels like she failed to protect her mother. "I just feel like I didn’t protect her. I wasn’t there to keep her safe from the police, who are supposed to protect her. They could’ve walked her home." On the day of her arrest, Garner had slipped out of her home and entered a Walmart. After collecting $13 worth of merchandise, she ended up walking out without paying for the items.
When stopped by Walmart employees, Garner, who suffers from dementia, offered to pay for the goods but they refused. Even after taking back all the items, the employees called the police. The Loveland Police Department has currently placed Hopp on administrative leave and re-assigned Jalali and another officer to administrative duties while investigating the matter. But Garner's family is arguing that there is nothing left to investigate and that the videos say it all. They want the officers to be fired and charged with crimes that they have committed. "There are great police officers out there and there always will be," said Swartz. "It’s the ones that do not do their job correctly. They want to feel that power."