A Colorado cop who abused an elderly woman with dementia in an apparent attempt to impress his girlfriend was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday.
Austin Hopp, who resigned from the Loveland Police Department in 2021 after the woman’s family filed a lawsuit, was convicted of second-degree assault in March. He will serve three years of parole after his release, according to the Denver Post.
The girlfriend he was trying to impress, Daria Jalali, was also a Loveland police officer who pulled up to the scene as Hopp was arresting the woman. She was charged with failure to intervene, failure to report the use of excessive force and official misconduct. Her case is still pending.
The victim, Karen Garner, was 73 years old when she was accused of shoplifting $14 worth of items from Walmart on June 26, 2020. The items included a can of Pepsi, a candy bar, a t-shirt and cleaning towels.
Her family says she simply forgot to pay for the items. They also say she attempted to pay for the items with a credit card after store employees stopped her outside the store but they refused to accept her payment.
Instead, they called the cops.
Hopp was the first to respond to the call, pulling up behind Garner as she was walking down the street. The video shows she appeared confused.
The cop took that as a sign of disrespect and took her to the ground and handcuffed her. He then pulled her back up and walked her to his car and stood her against the car.
That was when his girlfriend pulled up to assist in the arrest. And that was when he jerked her arm behind her back, dislocating her shoulder. The video captures a popping sound, causing Garner to yell out in pain.
Later at the station after he ensured both body cameras were turned off, a security video recorded Hopp bragging to Jalali about the popping sound. They broke up eight months later.
A man who witnessed the abuse complained to Loveland Police Sergeant Phil Metzler who later arrived at the scene but the sergeant tried to intimidate him by accusing him of interfering with the arrest for simply observing. The sergeant also claimed that by observing the arrest, the man was placing himself in danger because Garner, he claimed, could have been a violent murderer.
Garner ended up handcuffed to a bench for six hours in a jail cell as the cops watched the body cameras videos while laughing.
Police supervisors and commanding officers saw nothing wrong with the arrest because no action was taken until April 2021 when Garner’s family filed a lawsuit and their lawyer posted the video to YouTube where it quickly went viral, leading to the resignations of both Hopp and Jalali.
Five months later, Garner’s family accepted a $3 million settlement. Garner had been diagnosed with “cortical dementia with lack of insight, disorientation, and sensory aphasia” before the incident. Her family says her condition worsened after the arrest and she no longer recognizes family members.
Read the lawsuit here and watch the video below.