Three more Colorado police officers have been placed on administrative leave in connection with the violent arrest of a 73-year-old woman with dementia, according to the Loveland city manager’s office.
Karen Garner was arrested last June for walking out of a Walmart with $13.88 worth of items, according to a 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.
The arresting officer, Austin Hopp, was placed on administrative leave. The other officer involved in the arrest, Daria Jalali, was originally reassigned.
On Wednesday, Justine Bruno with the Loveland City Manager’s Office told CNN that Jalali along with officers Tyler Blackett and Philip Metzler were placed on administrative leave. Metzler was Hopp and Jalali’s supervising officer at the time of Garner’s arrest
The four officers being placed on leave follows the release of video showing officers – identified as Hopp, Jalali and Blackett – laughing as they begin to watch the body camera footage of Garner’s arrest.
“We are pursuing every option to swiftly address concerns raised through the lawsuit and the corresponding video footage,” said Loveland City Manager Steve Adams. “These concerns and future actions include mandatory training on interacting with mentally ill citizens and mandatory training on recognizing Alzheimer’s and dementia in citizens.”
Bruno did not know if the officers have retained separate legal counsel.
“Some of the officers named in the lawsuit have also retained the Fraternal Order of Police for additional legal representation,” she said.
CNN has contacted the Fraternal Order of Police numerous times and has not heard back. Attempts to reach Metzler were unsuccessful on Wednesday evening.
Officers say body camera footage ‘is like live TV’
Footage from the video was shot in the Loveland Police Department’s booking area shortly after Garner’s arrest.
In the video, 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.
Garner’s attorney, Sarah 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,” an amended lawsuit filed Sunday said.
Garner’s family is ‘physically sickened’ by video
Garner’s 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.”
An initial lawsuit was filed on April 14, but the new amended suit filed Sunday names the city of Loveland and five officers as defendants.
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.