Monday, September 25

Former Loveland cop sentenced to 5 years in assault of Karen Garner

Austin Hopp pleaded guilty in March to an assault charge despite opposition from Garner’s family.

LOVELAND, Colo — A Larimer County District Judge sentenced a former Loveland Police officer to five years in prison for an assault involving an elderly woman with dementia.

Austin Hopp pleaded guilty to an assault charge in March related to the June 2020 arrest and assault of Karen Garner.

He was initially charged with three counts including assault but pleaded guilty to a single charge of second-degree assault, a class four felony, on March 2.

RELATED: Former Loveland officer pleads guilty to assault related to Karen Garner’s arrest

The standard sentence is two to eight years, but it was an open sentence, meaning the judge could have sentenced him to probation.

Following his sentence, the Loveland Police Department released a statement.

“The Loveland Police Department is grateful for the District Attorney’s diligence and pursuit of due process during this very important case,” Interim Chief Eric Stewart said in the statement. “While this will not change the terrible treatment Ms. Garner experienced, we hope that this sentence can bring some measure of justice to her and her family.”

An attorney released footage of Karen Garner’s June 26, 2020 arrest in April of last year as part of a federal civil rights lawsuit. It alleges that Garner was forcibly pushed to the ground and that during the arrest she suffered multiple injuries. Those injuries included a dislocated shoulder, a broken humerus and a sprained wrist. 

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Hopp and former officer Daria Jalali were charged in May 2021, almost a year after the arrest of Garner, who was 73 when the incident took place.

> Below: Body camera footage shows the arrest of the 73-year-old. This footage has been edited by the law firm representing Garner. (Warning: The content in this video is graphic and may be disturbing to some viewers.)

Garner was arrested while walking home along Mountain Lion Road. She had just come from a nearby Walmart where she attempted to leave without paying for about $14 worth of items, the lawsuit says. The 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said that Garner’s misdemeanor case was dismissed.

According to the arrest affidavit in the case, while Garner was in custody, Hopp told Jalali, “I thought I broke [Garner’s] shoulder, did you hear it pop?”

Neither officer offered Garner medical care, despite the fact she repeatedly said her shoulder hurt, according to the affidavit.

Court records also show Jalali faces the following charges:

  • Peace officer: Failure to report use of force
  • Peace officer: Failure to intervene
  • Official misconduct

Hopp, Jalali and community service officer Tyler Blackett resigned after the incident came to light. Jalali is next due in court June 22.

Sgt. Phil Metzler, who also responded to the scene of Garner’s arrest, remained with the department until September of last year. He resigned after video was made public that appeared to show him dismissing excessive force concerns made to him by a man who witnessed Garner’s arrest.

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RELATED: Loveland sergeant whose body camera footage showed him dismiss witness concerns to Karen Garner’s arrest resigns

Loveland’s former police chief said the department was first made aware of the allegations of excessive force on April 14, 2020, and contacted the district attorney’s office about it.

Garner’s family announced a settlement of their lawsuit with the city of Loveland last September for $3 million.

RELATED: ‘There needs to be change’: Karen Garner’s family says $3 million settlement is only a start

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