News World US ‘Ready for the pop?’: Police in violent arrest of 73-year-old with dementia

‘Ready for the pop?’: Police in violent arrest of 73-year-old with dementia

karen garner dementia
Karen Garner has been unable to live safely at home alone since her violent arrest. Photo: AAP
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Shocking video has emerged from the US showing police officers mocking a 73-year-old woman with dementia after her violent arrest.

Karen Garner was detained in June 2020 while walking home after leaving a Colorado Walmart without paying for items worth less than $A20.

Bodycam footage, released by Ms Garner’s lawyer on Monday, shows an officer forcing her to the ground before he and a colleague continue to manhandle the distressed pensioner.

Ms Garner, who weighs just 36 kilograms, suffered a dislocated shoulder and fractured arm – to the apparent amusement of the officers, Austin Hopp and Daria Jalali, who watched the footage while she was left in a cell without medical attention.

“Ready for the pop?” an officer identified by Ms Garner’s lawyer as Mr Hopp said to other officers while re-watching the footage together.

“What popped?” another officer asked.

“I think it was her shoulder,” Mr Hopp said.

The incident occurred in Loveland, about 80 kilometres north of Denver, in June 2020.

Ms Garner’s family is suing the two officers and four others, the Loveland police department and city authorities after her violent arrest. Her lawyers allege her family knew nothing of her arrest, or her injuries, for several hours.

The surveillance video from the Loveland police station shows two other officers, one male and female, watching the footage with Mr Hopp as he makes the “pop” comment.

Ms Jalali, who is also watching, says: “I hate this.”

She is seen pulling her hat over her eyes while another male officer says: “I love it.”

Mr Hopp is also heard saying, “I can’t believe I threw a 73-year-old on the ground.”

The incident began after Walmart staff called police on June 26, 2020, to report Ms Garner had tried to leave the shop with about $A16 worth of products.

Staff made her leave the products in the shop and Ms Garner’s family has since said they believe she simply forgot to pay for the items.

Mr Hopp found her walking home from the Walmart. He took her to the ground within 30 seconds after she refused to stop walking, according to the body camera footage. He handcuffed her, forced her against his police vehicle and later used a hobble to restrain her feet.

Before her arrest, Ms Garner, who has nine grandchildren, lived independently in her own apartment near her daughter’s home.

However, her family said she now struggled to communicate and had anxiety, including bouts of pacing and hand-wringing. She has never been able to tell her family what happened on the day of the arrest, only asking: “Why did they hurt me?”

Ms Garner’s lawyer, Sarah Schielke, said the video of the officers laughing about the incident was disgusting. She recommended that most of the family not watch it.

“These videos cannot be unseen or unheard,” she said.

Ms Garner’s family put her in an assisted living facility in August, because they no longer thought she was safe at home.

“She hasn’t come back the way she was before,” her daughter-in-law Shannon Steward told The Denver Post.

“It was too much.”

Mr Hopp has been sent on administrative leave and Ms Jalali assigned to administrative duties while the police department investigates the incident. The local district attorney is also investigating.