FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — A former Colorado police officer who failed to stop another police officer from being rough with a 73-year-old woman with dementia was sentenced Friday to 45 days in jail and three years probation.
Daria Jalali previously pleaded guilty to the arrest of Karen Garner in Loveland, about 80 miles north of Denver, in 2020. She faced up to 60 days in jail for failing to intervene, a crime created by lawmakers as part of a police reform bill passed during protests against racial injustice and police brutality in 2020.
Former officer Austin Hopp arrested Garner after leaving a store without paying for approximately $14 for items. Police body camera video released last year shows Garner repeatedly saying she was trying to get home.
After Garner turns away from him, the footage shows Hopp grabbing her arm and pushing her to the ground and handcuffing her. Later, he pushed her against the hood of his car, and after she tried to turn around, he moved his bent left arm near her head. Soon after, Garner began collapsing towards the ground. Jalali, who arrived after Garner was handcuffed, said, “Get up! We’re not going to hold you back.
Hopp was sentenced in May to five years in prison for his treatment of Garner. Loveland has settled a lawsuit filed by Garner for $3 million. Her family said her condition deteriorated after her arrest and therefore required round-the-clock care.
Jalali apologized to Garner and his family in court, the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported. She told Judge Joshua Lehman that she thought Garner was intoxicated and believed Garner only complained about his handcuffs so he could get rid of them.
“I wanted to be a good policewoman and my heart was in the right place, but I still failed,” she said.
Jalali’s lawyer, Anna Geigle, said Loveland Police and another department let her stay on the job despite a pattern of poor performance recorded in her personal records. A neuropsychological assessment showed Jalali lacked the “psychological makeup” to act with the precision and conscientiousness expected of police officers, she said.
Lehman said Jalali should have known Garner was a “tricky” woman with a mental health issue.
“She just looks out of place and terrified to me,” he said after viewing body camera footage of the arrest in court for the first time. “The fact that two law enforcement officers cannot figure this out is incomprehensible to me.”
Garner’s son, John Steward, told the judge that Jalali had no idea the stress, pain and sadness the arrest had caused his family.
“We all have choices to make in life, and all of our choices have consequences,” he said. “I demand justice for my mother today.”