A former police officer pleaded guilty to a lesser charge for violently arresting an elderly woman who lives with dementia. Austin Hopp would normally face two to eight years in prison for assaulting Karen Garner, 75, but a Colorado judge can decide to give him only probation because this is an open sentence, according to 9 News.
The woman’s family, who previously revealed the plea deal, continue to oppose it.
“38 times Karen said, ‘I’m going home, I’m going home, I’m going home,’ during the arrest,” daughter-in-law Shannon Steward said, according to KCNC. “And he ignored her. Then 10 times while she was chained to the bench she said she hurt her shoulder, but was denied medical treatment. She had pleas that were ignored. And then we have to come here today and honor him with this plea deal, it is just a slap in the face.”
Garner’s son John Steward said he was “very disappointed.”
“We do know our God is greater and more powerful than this,” he said. “At the end of the day he will seek the justice for us, and the justice for my mom that she needs.”
As seen on body cam video, Hopp of the Loveland Police Department quickly took Garner to the ground and soon pressed her against his police when arresting her for forgetting to pay Walmart $13.88. He yanked her left arm behind her back. A now-settled lawsuit from her family said her shoulder was dislocated from this. On top of that, Walmart employees had already taken back the items and refused to let her pay when she offered her credit card.
As seen on police surveillance footage, Hopp showed off the body cam video to Daria Jalali, who was the second officer who participated in the arrest, and officer Tyler Blackett. He fist-bumped them separately.
“Did you hear the pop?” he said. “When I had her pushed against the car when you first got there? I was like, ‘Okay, you’re gonna play,’ and I was pushing, pushing, pushing, and I hear ‘pop,’ I was like ‘Oh, no.’”
All three officers resigned. Hopp and Jalali were criminally charged.
Judge Michelle Brinegar on Wednesday said that the case against Hopp was strong, but she ultimately reasoned the plea was comparable to others with similar charges, according to KCNC.
“Given the info from the DA, and looking at this and balancing with other cases that have been with the court, it appears that it is acceptable to accept the plea deal,” she said.
District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin construed the guilty plea as a sucess.
Today our office secured a guilty plea to Class 4 Felony Assault for former Loveland officer Austin Hopp related to his arrest of Karen Garner.
This result brings significant criminal accountability for his assault of Ms. Garner & shows such abuse of power will not be tolerated.
— Gordon McLaughlin (@McLaughlinforDA) March 2, 2022
Sentencing is set for May 5.
[Image via Larimer County Sheriff’s Office]
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