Loveland police officer Austin Hopp was apparently trying to impress his girlfriend when he dislocated the shoulder of a 73-year-old woman with dementia who had been picking flowers on the side of the road when he first confronted her two years ago.
After all, it was only seconds after Loveland police officer Daria Jalali arrived to the scene to assist with the arrest that Hopp jerked the woman’s arm up behind her back so hard that you can actually hear a popping sound on his body cam footage.
He was very proud of that popping sound, bragging to Jalali about it later at the station after they both had turned off their body cameras and bumped fists; their actions and words captured by the overhead security camera which would help build a criminal case against the cops.
The woman, Karen Garner, spent six hours handcuffed to a bench in a jail cell without medical treatment while the cops sat outside the cell laughing and joking, watching the body cam footage of the arrest, Hopp relishing in the sound of her shoulder dislocating.
It was June 26, 2020 and Hopp was on top of his game, a married power-tripping cop who had just moved in with Jalali after a year on the job; his wife filing for divorce the following month.
Despite a witness complaining to Hopp’s sergeant about abusing Garner that day, he was well-protected within the department because his supervisors did not see anything wrong with brutally beating an elderly woman with dementia.
It wasn’t until Garner’s family filed a lawsuit in April 2021 and their lawyer, Sarah Schielke, posted videos from the incident on YouTube – sparking national outrage – that the officers began to be held accountable for their actions. Both cops resigned that same month and were criminally charged the following month.
On Wednesday, Hopp accepted a plea deal where he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault to avoid trial. He is facing two to eight years in prison, according to the Gazette. He will be sentenced on May 5.
Jalali, who was charged with failure to intervene, failure to report the use of excessive force, and official misconduct, has a court hearing next month.
Their relationship lasted until February 2021 when neighbors told the Daily Mail Hopp had moved out of the home he was sharing with her. Neighbors also said he would frequently speed through the neighborhood in his patrol car and they even complained about it, but nothing was ever done.
Videos from the incident show his sergeant, Phil Metzler, trying to intimidate the witness who had complained about Hopp’s behavior, telling the man that Garner outran Walmart security after attempting to shoplift, accusing him of interfering with the arrest for simply observing the arrest.
Sergeant Metzler also claimed the witness was placing himself in danger because Garner could have been a violent murderer.
But it was obvious to most everybody outside the police department that the real criminal was Hopp.
Garner’s family accepted a $3 million settlement in September 2021 but were not happy with the plea deal, which reduced the seriousness of the charges from a maximum 30-year sentence to a maximum 10-year sentence.
The lawsuit states that Garner had simply forgotten to pay for the merchandise because she suffers from dementia. It says she attempted to pay for the items, including a Pepsi, t-shirt, candy bar and cleaning wipes but was refused.
She then walked off and the store called police who found her walking on the side of the road picking wildflowers.
“I’m going home,” she kept telling Hopp as he abused her, accusing her of “fighting” him.
Her family said her condition became much worse after the incident and that she no longer recognizes family members.