FORT COLLINS, Colo .– Three officers involved in the arrest and detention of 73-year-old Karen Garner, who has dementia, resigned last summer, Loveland police officials said on Friday.
Constables Austin Hopp, Daria Jalali and Community Services Officer Tyler Blackett “are no longer employed with the Loveland Police Department,” Chief Robert Ticer told a news conference.
Ticer declined to comment on whether the agents had resigned or been fired. Department spokesman Tom Hacker later told Coloradoan, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, that the three officers had resigned. Loveland is approximately 50 miles north of Denver.
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The announcement comes about two weeks after a federal civil rights lawsuit was filed by lawyer Sarah Schielke on behalf of Garner and her family, alleging that officers used excessive force and violated Garner’s rights in under the United States Disability Act. The lawsuit also accuses the Loveland Police Department of failing to train its officers to interact with residents with disabilities.
In addition to the three former officers, Sgt. Philip Metzler and Sgt. Antolina Hill is also named as the defendant in the lawsuit. Metzler, who also responded at the scene of Garner’s arrest and was Hopp’s supervisor, was put on administrative leave. Hill, who is accused of being aware of Garner’s injuries but did not intervene, continues to work on her regular duty, Ticer said.
Ticer acknowledged the “overflow of concerns” they heard locally and internationally regarding Garner’s arrest and detention. “Our goal as the Loveland Police Department is to make our community proud,” Ticer said. “We failed and we are sorry.”
Ticer said Friday he was not aware of allegations that Garner was seriously injured in the June 26 arrest until the federal lawsuit was filed on April 14.
In Hopp’s body camera footage, released to the public by Schielke, Hopp is seen pushing Garner to the ground seconds after approaching her after being accused of leaving Walmart without paying for $ 13.88. merchandise. Garner was arrested by staff before leaving with the items.
Jalali arrives on stage shortly after, as does Metzler, and they are seen in the video helping Hopp forcefully detain Garner. During the arrest, officers dislocated Garner’s shoulder, fractured his arm and sprained his wrist, the lawsuit said.
Garner suffers from dementia and sensory aphasia, which impairs his ability to communicate and understand others, according to his family.
A video from inside the Loveland Police Department also posted by Schielke shows Hopp, Jalali and Blackett laughing and talking about the arrest while together looking at Hopp’s body camera footage as Garner is handcuffed in a cell. detention nearby.
Hopp can be heard in the video asking Jalali if she heard Garner’s arm burst during the arrest. At another point in the video, Hopp says, “I can’t believe I threw a 73 year old woman to the ground.”
The lawsuit claims Hill also entered the reservation area and knew Garner was injured but did not help her.
“What you saw in the video is not the Loveland Police Department,” Ticer said of his personal feelings while watching the videos. “It hurts to see this. I’ve been in law enforcement for 32 years and it hurts to see this.”
Schielke criticized Ticer’s statement that the behavior in the videos does not reflect the Loveland Police Department.
“He’s wrong. It’s the Loveland Police Department. And it’s his Loveland Police Department,” Schielke said in a press release Friday afternoon. “He’s responsible for what’s going on there.”
Schielke said Ticer’s decision not to step down and the city manager’s decision not to fire him “proves that LPD’s leadership and toxic culture issues are as serious as we suspected when we saw the very first video, if not worse. “
In a statement by Garner’s family in the press release, they said they were disappointed with Ticer’s comments and actions, calling his statement an effort “to protect only himself and the reputation of the LPD. “.
“(J) ust as of June 26, 2020, the inhumane treatment of our mother was ignored and her continued support to the department was at the center of her concerns,” the family statement read. “He said our mother’s case had ‘hurt him personally’. It is clear that the only thing that “hurt him personally” was the attention this matter gave to his department. Not what happened to our mother. “
Eighth Judicial District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin has launched a criminal investigation, led by the Fort Collins Police Department, to determine whether any laws have been broken. After the critical incident response team’s investigation, Ticer said the department will work with the city’s human resources department and a third-party investigator to conduct an internal affairs investigation to determine if officers involved violated departmental policies.