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Two former Colorado police officers are being prosecuted in connection with the arrest of a 73-year-old woman with dementia last year who knocked her to the ground, prosecutors said Wednesday.
A former Loveland Police Department officer Austin Hopp was accused of assaulting the woman, while the other officer, Daria Jalali, was accused of not intervening in or reporting a case of excessive violence, according to Gordon P. McLaughlin, District Attorney for Colorado Eighth Judicial District.
The episode happened on June 26, 2020 when police stopped Ms. Karen Garner in Loveland, about 45 miles north of Denver. She was clutching wildflowers and her wallet as she was tossed to the ground and handcuffed by police officers suspected of stealing $ 13.88 worth of items from a Walmart.
On police cameras of the episode released by Ms. Garner’s attorney last month, Ms. Garner can be heard screaming in pain and appearing confused as she told officers that she had “just gone home.”
Another video, also released by Ms. Garner’s attorney last month, showed officials laughing at footage of Ms. Garner’s arrest. “I love it,” says one officer with a laugh. “That’s great.”
Mr. Hopp and Ms. Jalali resigned from the police department at the end of April, and a civil service officer who had booked Ms. Garner also resigned.
“Maintaining public confidence in law enforcement and our criminal justice system is vital to the safety of our community and our fundamental belief in fairness,” McLaughlin said on Wednesday when the charges against Mr. Hopp and Ms. Jalali were announced.
He added, “The charges we have filed are based on both the use of force during Ms. Garner’s arrest and her alleged failure to perform certain duties during and after her arrest, which are the law and sworn duties of a peace commissioner. “
Mr. Hopp was charged with second degree assault, attempting to influence an officer, and first degree official misconduct. Ms. Jalali was accused of failing to report excessive use of force, of not engaging in excessive use of force, and of official first-degree misconduct.
It was not immediately clear whether the former officers had lawyers. Email messages to Mr. Hopp and Ms. Jalali were not immediately returned on Wednesday.
After officers arrested Ms. Garner last June, Ms. Garner’s attorney filed a civil lawsuit against the Loveland Police Department. In the lawsuit, Ms. Garner is described as “suffering from dementia, disorientation and sensory aphasia” or as having a disturbed understanding of spoken or written language.
According to the lawsuit, Ms. Garner was pinned into a patrol car and her arm was twisted behind her back, breaking a bone and slipping her shoulder. She was later taken to prison and received medical treatment hours later, the lawsuit said.
The arrest sparked an investigation by the Fort Collins Police Services, which recently released its findings to Mr. McLaughlin’s office.