The family of a 73-year-old woman who alleges that she was violently arrested is calling for the firing of the arresting officers involved and the removal of “city leadership that hired these individuals and fostered this culture of abuse,” according to a statement from the family’s attorney released Tuesday
Karen Garner, who has dementia, was arrested last June for walking out of a Walmart in Loveland, Colorado, with $13.88 worth of items, according to an amended lawsuit filed Sunday. Police were called and the arrest left Garner with multiple injuries, including a broken humerus, a dislocated shoulder and a sprained wrist, according to the lawsuit.
Loveland is about 50 miles north of Denver.
The amended lawsuit names the city of Loveland and five officers as defendants. The initial lawsuit was filed on April 14. CNN obtained body camera footage of the arrest from the office of Garner’s attorney, Sarah Schielke.
The amended lawsuit also includes a video that shows three officers – Austin Hopp, Daria Jalali and Tyler Blackett, who are named in the lawsuit – laughing as they begin to watch the body camera footage of Garner’s arrest, according to Schielke.
The family released a statement Tuesday saying they were devastated because Garner is a “human being” that was treated by Loveland police like an “animal.”
“We are physically sickened. We are angry. Our hearts could not possibly ache any more,” the statement read. “Once fiercely independent, happy, carefree and a great lover of the outdoors, she is now fearful, distrusting, reclusive.”
Schielke said in a press release that there’s been “enough investigating. The police have known about this for 10 months and the videos speak for themselves. It’s time for action.”
CNN has contacted the Loveland Police Officers Association for comment about the initial incident as well as the amended complaint and additional video footage from the police station but did not receive a response Monday night or Tuesday. It’s not clear whether Hopp has an attorney and attempts to reach Jalali and Blackett were unsuccessful.
Loveland Police spokesperson Tom Hacker issued a statement to CNN saying, “All matters related to the arrest of Loveland resident Karen Garner in June 2020 are subject to a criminal investigation, ordered by the 8th Judicial District Attorney and conducted by Fort Collins (Colorado) Police Services.”
Hacker added, “Independent comment from the Loveland Police Department would not be appropriate at this time. LPD has faith in the due process that this investigation allows for.”
Officers say body camera footage ‘is like live TV’
Footage from the newly released video was shot in the Loveland Police Department’s booking area shortly after Garner’s arrest last June.
Hopp gives Jalali a fist bump when asked how the arrest went.
“Well, I thought it went great,” Hopp says, adding, “I think we crushed it.”
Later in the video, as officers begin watching, Jalali, who assisted in the arrest, says body camera footage is “like live TV.”
Blackett responds by saying, “the bodycam show,” as someone giggles.
“Bodycams are my favorite thing to watch. I could watch livestream bodycams all day,” Jalali says.
But as the three of them continue watching, it appears Jalali becomes uncomfortable with the video.
“Can you stop it now?” she asks.
“What?” Hopp asks.
According to a YouTube transcription of the video, Hopp then asks, “Are you ready for the pop?” as Jalali covers her ears.
“Hear the pop?” Hopp asks.
The pop refers to something in the video, but it’s not clear what that is.
“I hate this,” Jalali says.
“This is great,” Hopp responds.
“I hate it,” Jalali says.
“I love it,” Hopp fires back.
Schielke said viewing of the video and the conversations around it all took place as Garner was 10 feet away in a cell. She remained in that cell for two and a half hours, the lawsuit states, until she was taken to a hospital.
“For the 6 hours that Ms. Garner was kept in custody by Loveland and the jail, despite many jokes made about her being disabled and mentally unfit, no one attempted to locate Ms. Garner’s caregiver, console or help her, de-escalate her, or alert her loved ones to her terrible situation,” the lawsuit said.
Hopp has been placed on administrative leave and Jalali has been reassigned.
District attorney’s office will review the incident
The 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office of Colorado said last week it has requested a review of the incident. The investigation will be led by Fort Collins Police Services.
“The statements on the videos are very concerning,” said District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin. “I will consider those statements – along with all relevant evidence compiled by the (Critical Incident Response Team) – in making a charging decision.”
McLaughlin says there is no set timeframe to complete the investigation, but it is a priority for his office.
Other agencies including the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado and the FBI will assist in the investigation, according to a statement from McLaughlin’s office.